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Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Just inland from Yarmouth’s ‘Golden Mile’ is a quiet one of the county’s oldest villages, the ancient Roman settlement known today as Burgh Castle
Burgh Castle is two miles west of Yarmouth. Travelling by road from Norwich follow the A47 down the Acle straight, turn on to the A12 as you come into Yarmouth, then turn right at the next two roundabouts.
Burgh Castle looks out over Breydon Water, and there are beautiful views across the water to the Berney Arms windmill on the other side.
It is a well-known spot for bird watching and in the season there is good fishing. The marshland countryside around is criss-crossed with miles of scenic footpaths.
The castle itself is a Roman fort; the standing part of its south wall retains its original flintwork, and is a magnificent example of Roman masonry.
Legend has it that the Romans founded Burgh Castle in 100AD.
At a time when the land that is now Yarmouth and Gorleston was under the sea, Burgh Castle was the site of the fort of Gariannonum.
The fort that stands today was built in the second half of the third century, in response to the threat of attack by Saxon pirates. Garrisoned there was a detachment of the elite Stablesian cavalry from Greece, which had served in Holland and was accustomed to marsh warfare.
The fort was occupied until the fourth century when Constantine III took the troops with him to fight in Europe.
On the first Saturday in October there is an annual pilgrimage in honour of St Fursey, (pictured in stained glass in the church, right) the first named known missionary to Norfolk.
The congregation assembles in the village church for a service before walking across the fields to a site within the walls of the Roman Fort which is believed to have been where Fursey's monastery was founded in 630AD.