Rutupiæ was the Roman name for Richborough near Sandwich, Kent, which they founded when they landed in England in AD 43. A major port of Roman Britain (with Dubris, it was one of the start-points for the Roman road of Watling Street, which ran on to Canterbury and London), it has many phases of Roman remains, collectively known as Richborough Fort or Richborough Roman Fort, still visible today and under the care of English Heritage. (A third, local name, Richborough Castle, is used mainly just for the Saxon Shore Fort walls.) Earth fortifications were first dug on the site in the 1st century, probably was as a storage depot and bridgehead for the Roman army. This transformed into a civilian and commercial town, which was later replaced by a Saxon Shore Fort around the year 277. The later fort is believed to have been constructed by Carausius.
As a port, the town always competed with Portus Dubris (modern Dover), about 15 miles (25 km) south along the coast. However, Richborough was widely regarded throughout the Roman Empire for the quality of its oysters (they are mentioned as on a par with those from the Italian Lucrine Lake in Juvenal, Satires 4.141), whilst "Rutupine shore" was used as a synonym for the whole coast of Britain in some literary works.
During the late third century this (by now large) civilian town was remilitarized by its conversion into a Saxon Shore Fort. The Saxon Shore Forts were a series of forts built by the Romans along the Channel on the English and French sides, to guard against invading Saxon pirates. Construction of the fort here is believed to have started in 277 and completed in 285. This involved the demolition and reuse as spolia of the triumphal arch, and numismatic evidence suggests it occurred during the reign of Carausius.
The fort was 5 acres (2 ha) in area and was surrounded by massive walls, forming an almost perfect square. However, the construction of the north and south walls differed. The north wall was built by different gangs of laborers, while the south wall seems to have been built as a single unit. This suggests that the north wall of the fort was built sometime after the construction of the south wall. In some places, the walls reached over 25 feet (8 m) in height, and were built of small ashlar and double-tile courses. The main entrance of the fort was in the west wall. The walls stand to a great height and were of such high quality, that they only recently needed repointing.
Though some stone buildings existed in the interior of the fort, most of its buildings seem to have been composed of timber. There existed a central rectangular building built of stone, which was probably the principia (headquarters). Small, stone built bathes were also present at Richborough.
Recent Excavations carried out in late 2008 of an 90 metre section of Roman wall uncovered the original Roman Coastline along with the remains of a Medieval Dock. The discovery and excavation of the beach itself has pinpointed its geographical relationship to the site's earthworks, proving that the earthworks were a beachhead defence, protecting around 700 metres of coast. The site is now two and half miles inland from the current coastline.