gone, the engineers consulted their plan, found that the little red line on the plan showed a discrepancy of 7 inches from where the pipe now was. And so. without further ado, they smashed the front of the bastion, and moved the pipe 7 inches. "This made me realise," said Brian Philp, "just how much consisted of engineering niceties, and that archaeology counted for nothing at all. It marked the declaration of war."
Sketch map of major 1973 town-centre development at Dover, showing pending destruction of Roman forts and the great church of St. Martin's.
Drawn by Mike Hickson brand new bulldozer, and they swept through the southern area of the fort untouched by the excavators. There was a great deal of overburden, but as soon as they got down to the Roman levels it was clear that there were Roman walls over the whole area, most of them still standing several feet high: here was a site four to five times larger than the one excavated before, and it came when the excavators were already wearied by 80 days of nonstop excavation.
At first it had been intended to do salvage recording, but as the work progressed it became clear that this was the most complete Roman fort in Southern Britain, with walls still standing up to 9 feet high. There were fourteen major buildings, dozens of roads, drains, sewers, the lot. And it was all to be destroyed by the new by-pass. If ever there was a time in British archaeology to stand and fight, this was it. The battle of Dover began.
The first skirmish was the Battle of the Bastion. During the course of pipe-laying for gas mains on a side road, a Roman bastion was encountered, a splendid horse-shoe shaped construction which had been added to the Saxon shore fort in the fourth century. The archaeologists promptly persuaded the workmen to move their gas-pipe so that it went past the base of the bastion. They then contacted the engineers, told them what had been done, and explained the importance of the bastion. As soon as they had
The Battle of the Bastion
"We retaliated promptly. We began by putting up a notice on the bastion saying 'Unique Roman Tower needlessly smashed by Steel Pipe, 8th September 1971.' Twenty minutes later a Southern Television team 'happened' to go past. That evening the mayor of Dover heard about the bastion for the first time from the television news. The following morning there was an interesting confrontation in the Town Clerk's office, as a result of which a new principle was established: If the archaeologists say stop, you stop; we don't want any more publicity like that."
"Meanwhile in the southern half of the fort, the situation was becoming catastrophic. The turning point came on the 19th September. Up till then we had held the contractors off by a variety of ploys. But on that day—perhaps because it was my birthday and I was in a reflective mood—it became clear that what was about to happen at Dover was a National Disaster. I realised that two things were needed: firstly, we needed more time to complete the excavations. And secondly, why not raise the road just a couple of feet and thus preserve the fort underneath for posterity? The road had been designed 28 years before in the days of the Austin 7, and already its inadequacies were obvious, for its successor had already been announced when plans were revealed for a 7 miles long by-pass