Pharos – Roman lighthouse by Saxon Church, Dover Castle
This picture suggests there may be more Roman remains above ground in Dover than in Canterbury, but is that a reason to talk about a place so close to home?
No, but the Pharos is significant. On the day I visited with a friend, the other side of the Channel was clearly visible, though I could not convincingly discern the column to Napoleon’s Grand Armée above the French cliffs. (I did once!) The Pharos has shown the way for nearly 2,000 years, though it’s a long while since the beacon fire was kindled there.
And who has come? The Romans, were they in peace or war? Both, over the years. And so on through two millennia. Napoleon certainly meant War.
Nowadays, thank God, those who come through Dover come in Peace; no more is it called Hell Fire Corner; the video displays in the Castle upset my friend who was seeing them for the first time.
My wife’s sewing machine was all that could be salvaged from a bombed house in Dover. It was made in Germany …
Let us pray for a continuation and a deepening of peace in Europe – and may the Pharos and Castle be a sign of welcome, not rejection, to travellers.
Pharos -Roman lighthouse by Saxon Church
As I said to my wife, the Autumn changing of the hour is disorienting, especially when the evening draws in, and even more so when away from home, as we now are.
No such meddling with the clocks in Roman times; who had clocks? Not the sailors making for Dubris, the town we call Dover, but they would have sought the beacon fire at the lighthouse where the castle now is. They could orient themselves by its light.
The church of Saint Mary – we just see the West end in this picture – is indeed oriented. It looks to the East, seeing the sunrise as a powerful reminder of the Second Coming of the risen Lord.
Early one morning he did indeed appear by a fire to a boatload of sailors; he fed them and commissioned their captain to feed his lambs and his sheep. John 21.
The lighthouses along the coast were built for those in peril on the sea, to guide them home in safety. Arthur Ransome’s Peter Duck and his We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea both engage the reader to understand their work.
May we understand how others have lit our way, and indeed ‘let our little light shine.’