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54BC to 1483AD

Home / History / 54BC to 1483AD
Ramsgate's history on the Isle of Thanet goes back over many centuries. Early history saw the arrival of the Belgic peoples to this general area in the first 100 years BC, during which period the Romans first arrived in 55BC and 54BC. They later came to this area of East Kent to fully conquer Britain in the Claudian Invasion of 43AD setting up the huge gateway fortress and town of Richborough nearby - just 4½ miles (6km) in a straight line from present day Ramsgate.

Evidence of their presence has been found during excavation work around the town including in 1870 when Roman Burials were found in the area of the Granville Hotel on the East Cliff. Roman tiles and wooden piles sunk into the chalk beneath the site of the present slipway in the harbour have also been found, when the slipway was constructed suggesting the area was used as a small haven.

During the end of the Roman period, the Anglo Saxons under the leadership of Hengist and Horsa with their mercenary force arrived at the invitation of the Romano / British leader Vortigern in 449AD. Vortigern gave them the Isle of Thanet - which was a true island at that time - as payment for their help. Landing at Ebbsfleet they were to stay long after the Romans had left, naming the country England.

It was during the Anglo Saxon period that St Augustine arrived from the church of Rome in 597AD when he also landed at Ebbsfleet. A stone cross now marks the spot where this landing was said to have taken place. That location is now about half a mile (nearly a kilometre) inland as the mile wide Wantsum Channel - separating Thanet from mainland Kent - has long since silted up.

The towns earliest reference is as "Hræfn's geat", meaning cliff gap, It later came to be known as Remmesgate, or sometimes as Ramisgate around the beginning of the 13th Century (1200AD to 1230AD). Some 120 years later, around 1360AD, the area became known as Ramesgate. At this time this small area was little more than a fishing hamlet with some farms scattered about it as a part of one or more of the local 'Manors'. Then in 1483AD Ramsgate was adopted as a limb of Sandwich and thus a part of the Cinque Ports confederation.