The Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans have left plenty to see in Rochester, but until today (1 April) there has been no trace of the Vikings who visited in 842 and 884 AD. Although they were unable to take the city, they stayed until 885 AD when most of them were sent on their way by Alfred the Great. A few were allowed to remain in their fortified encampment, which according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicles was “by the entrance of the city”. Unfortunately the city, being of Roman design, had four entrances so until now the site was unknown. As the Vikings came by water they would probably have used the North Gate, which opened onto the marshes now being developed as Rochester Riverside, and this has been confirmed by Kent Archaeologists today.
Workmen digging near the site of Acorn Wharf have uncovered remains of Scandinavian ninth century weapons and traces of a clinker-built ship of the style used by Vikings led by the warrior Guthrum.
A spokesman for the Medway Heritage Harbour Group said, “This exciting discovery supports our claim that Rochester has considerably more maritime heritage than meets the eye. The Romans, Saxons and Normans understood the strategic importance of the location, being where Watling Street crosses the Medway. Medway Council must ensure that the site is properly excavated and protected for use by future generations of boaters.”