Dover

Doure, Douvre, Dovre

Dover is a historic town in the southeastern part of England, in the county of Kent. It is an important port city on the shore of the English Channel, especially for travel between Britain and the Continent.

Dover has a good battlefield, Barham Down, nearby.

It also boasts Dover Castle. Arthur used it for keeping at least one lifetime political prisoner, the duke of a Tuscan town. Dover was invaded by Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. As the closest city to mainland Europe, it was the site of troop departures and arrivals in Arthur’s various wars. Arthur landed in Dover on the way back from his war with Lancelot, and Arthur’s forces encountered Mordred in the first of their various battles. Gawaine was slain in the combat, and was buried, according to Malory, in a chapel in the castle.

Chrétien recognized Dover’s importance: the messengers who brought Arthur, then in Brittany, news of Count Angrs’ treachery came through Dover.


Dover | 0 to the 9th century AD

Roman Period | 1st – 4th centuries
Dover, known as Portus Dubris in Roman times, was a crucial Roman port and one of the main embarkation points for the Roman legions traveling to and from Gaul (modern-day France). The Romans built a series of fortifications and lighthouses in the area, including the Roman Pharos, which is one of the best-preserved Roman lighthouses in the world.

Saxon Shore Fort
A series of defensive fortifications, built by the Romans along th coast of southeastern England, including Dover, during the third century. These forts, known as the “Saxon Shore Fort”, were part of the defensive network against Saxon and Frankish raids. Dover likely had a Saxon Shore Fort, but it’s important to note that not all Roman forts in the region were part of this specific system. The purpose was to defend against seaborne invasions rather than to serve as economic or administrative centers.

Anglo-Saxon Migrations and the Kingdom of Kent | 5th – 6th centuries
Following the decline and withdrawal of Roman rule in Britain in the early fifth century, the region of Dover, like much of southern and eastern England, became a target for the invading Anglo-Saxon tribes. These Germanic settlers gradually established their presence and established the foundations of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent in the sixth century. The Jutes, one of the Germanic tribes, are believed to have been particularly influential in the formation of the Kingdom of Kent, which Dover became a part of. It was one of the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to convert to Christianity.

Dover Castle
The site of Dover Castle has ancient origins, dating back to Roman times. The Romans recognized the strategic importance of the location and built a Roman lighthouse and other defensive structures on the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. As the Dover region became part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent, the Anglo-Saxons likely repurposed or adapted some of the existing Roman structures for their own use.

Christianization | 6th – 7th centuries
The arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury in 597 AD, who was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons, led to the conversion of the Kentish king, Æthelberht, to Christianity. This event played a crucial role in the wider Christianization of Anglo-Saxon England.

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and Viking Raids | 7th – 9th centuries
Dover was part of the Kingdom of Kent, which was often at the forefront of interactions with other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and continental Europe. Towards the end of the eighth and into the ninth century, Viking raids on the coast of England increased. Dover, as a coastal settlement, was not immune to these raids, and the town experienced periods of vulnerability and disruption.

Early Medieval Period
Dover’s strategic location at the narrowest point of the English Channel made it an important site for both trade and defense. The port’s significance as a gateway to and from the continent persisted through the early medieval period, which was marked by a blend of Anglo-Saxon, Roman, and Viking influences.


Notes
Dwfr is the modern Welsh for water, also spelt dwr. The name of Dover is a variation of this word. It can be compared with the Cornish dour, Gaelic and Irish dur and dohhar [pronounced doar], the Greek udor, and all probably cognate with the Celtic dubr.


See also
Vortimer | The Legend of King Arthur


Sources
Vulgate Mort Artu | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
The Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470