Town Mouse on Dover

This week, I am the souris de ville, being in France. I came here the old-fashioned way, by ship, after the traditional motorway dash to Dover. Poor Dover: thanks to the miserable planners, it has become somewhere that most people pass through as quickly as possible, unless visiting the castle.

The road system hardly invites you to stop. Nor do the buildings that were rushed up after the Second World War, during which the port was a prime target for bombing. Still, in places, you can glimpse the town Dover must once have been. If you explore further, as I did earlier in the year, you find treasures.

Prime among them is the boat in Dover Museum. Built in the Bronze Age, it is the oldest known boat in the world, built of planks wedged and stitched together, the gaps stuffed with moss. It seems to have been decommissioned and left in a backwater, where it sank into the mud; it was the mud that preserved it, until it was found in 1992. It is an amazing structure.

Then there is the Roman Painted House, originally part of an official guest house built in about 200ad, and later incorporated into the rampart of a fort. Follow this with a walk around the Palmerstonian fort on the Western Heights… and you could well miss your ferry.

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