I felt that a natural next step in this impromptu series would be to look at some ruins – what’s more, ruins almost immediately adjacent to sites looked at previously. While we’re here, and all that!
Just a short walk south of Burgh Castle’s Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is what remains of a Roman fort. An imposing site it most certainly is, the walls some fifteen feet of crumbly flint, stone and tile construction, dating back to around 300 AD. One of a series of strategically placed shore forts, its main duty was to watch over and fend off assaults on both Breydon water – which was not so much water as vast inland sea at the time – and the North sea. After the Romans had left Britain, it was reoccupied, believed to be the site of an early Christian monastery and later a Norman castle.
The western wall has long since collapsed, tumbling down the hill and into the water and unveiling a breathtaking view across the broadland, now dominated by Berney Arms Mill and passing leisure craft. Needless to say, as if the area weren’t attractive enough to me as a child, this sealed the deal! And it remains quite gripping as an adult, I’d say – coupled with the birdsong, the wind rustling through the trees and a warm, spring sun, one of the most peaceful retreats I know.
Large pieces appear precariously askew, but nevertheless are stable – an enduring testament to the skills of those who built them. Many of the wonks were caused by the Norman castle, whose construction entailed breaching several sections of the fort’s south wall, and erecting a giant mound upon which it would perch. While very little trace of the castle itself is evident, the mound is clearly identified, as are the consequences of such a project!
More good playtime. Some of the experimental scatter brushes I made to help with the wall’s make-up are a bit iffy, especially in the last one, and I probably won’t use those again, but it’s been quite invigorating trying to capture some of this landmark’s striking energy and mystique. I may yet return to it!