Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » United Kingdom » Countries » England » Cities & Towns » Portsmouth

Portsmouth, an island city located on Portsea Island in Hampshire, England, is the only city in England which is not on Great Britain’s mainland. It is one of the best-known ports in the world.

In the late 3rd century, the Romans held most of England, and the Saxons were routinely raiding the southern coast of Britannia. The Romans built a network of forts on the coast in order to stop the Saxon raids, and one of those forts, which was called Portus Adurni, was located in the Roman province of Britannia at the north end of Portsmouth Harbour.

During the 8th and 9th centuries, the southern coast of England was highly vulnerable to Danish Viking invasions. In 787 it was conquered by Danish pirates, and in 838, a Danish fleet of ships anchored off the coast of Portsmouth, again plundering the area. While the Danes were repelled, Æthelwulf, King of Wessex was killed. In 1001, the Danes were back, pillaging Portsmouth and threatening the English natives with extinction. The next year, the Danes were massacred by what remained of the English in the area. Portsmouth continued to be attacked until 1066.

After the Norman Conquest, Portchester Castle was constructed in the north-west corner of the fort. From 1665, it was used at various times, most notably during the Napoleonic wars with France, the Castle was where prisoners of war were held. During the first decade of the 19th century, it served as an ordnance depot. In 1814. The last prisoners left, and in 1819. The army abandoned the castle entirely. Shortly thereafter most of the prison buildings were razed, and in the 1920s, the site was cleared by unemployed miners.

Today, the site of Portchester Castle is maintained by the historical charity English Heritage, which keeps more than 400 historic buildings, sites, and monuments. The standing remains of that estate include the 12th century keep, the palace of Richard II, and the Church of St. Mary.



Recommended Resources

Search for Portsmouth on Google or Bing