The Roman Bridge

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Originally there would only have been one gate, Bridge Gate, on this riverside, but later two or three more. The walls receded, and lined the natural haven known now as Queenhythe. The gates would have taken the form particularly affected by the Romans, of two semicircular arches with a pier between, and protected by square towers.

Above these walls, and stretching up the rising ground to the north, could be seen the roofs of the houses, of rather a flat pitch, and covered with red pantiles, and here and there the portico and long roof of some public edifice or temple, especially more towards the northern boundary.

The bridge was entirely of timber, and protected at its southern end by another gate and defences, forming what was called afterwards the South work or wark. And as the river glided past the stout timber piles it reflected the figures of the old citizens of the Roman city, passing and repassing: some wealthy ones, in their litters or on horseback, making their way to their farms or villas in pleasant Kent or Surrey.

Ever and anon the bridge vibrated to the tramp of marching legions on their way from the south to attack the hordes of barbarians in the more northerly parts of the island.

The river must have swarmed with fish in those days, and we may picture it dotted with boats and with the coracles of the native Britons, in which fishermen are busy with nets and rods; and as the sun goes down in the west the river lights up in a golden glory, only broken here and there by the dark boats on its luminous surface.

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