Herne Bay and Reculver, Kent

13 02 2005

This morning I did some walking within what remains of the crumbling but restored Roman walls of Canterbury. This walk also led to the Norman castle, in such a state of ruin that it evokes strong comparison to the ruins of Polonnaruva in Sri Lanka. The Roman walls themselves mean little when we become acutely aware that it has been restored over the years more than once. Is restoration all that important and to what extent should it be pursued? To what lengths we should go to preserve our heritage? When restoration involves people from a different age with a different perception, is not such work tantamount to mutilation of that ancient heritage we wish to preserve? The same questions are to be asked of the Stonehenge. More often the answer seems to hint at the vested interests of a few who seek to capture popular vote, public opinion or tourism.

The Two Sisters at Reculver

The Two Sisters at Reculver

With nothing of greater interest in Canterbury it was time to visit the coasts of Kent. A walk from Herne Bay to Reculver was enjoyable despite the cold wind buffeting from the sea. Herne Bay claims to invite visitors with an air of freshness and clarity. They say the air comes all the way from the Arctic. As long as cars run on the roads or smokers puff away in all public spaces including walking paths, there is no fresh air to be had except at the most remote spots of the land.

Reculver is the site of the old (3rd century) Roman town of Regulbium, then separated from the Isle of Thanet. Nothing significant of the Roman fort remains. Over time silt deposits from the River Stour has denied Thanet its island status. It is now clearly joined to the mainland although in 1953 rising water levels due to flooding separated it for a few days. Nature is dynamic. The landscape is always changing. Nothing is idle – not the sea, not the wind, not the land which humans defend as their own.

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