National Geographic : 1952 Apr
530 Portsmouth's Car Ferry Pulls Itself Across the Harbor with Giant Chains This odd craft runs on a double track of chain cable which it picks up from the harbor floor and pulls over windlasses. It saves automobiles a long land trip between Portsmouth Point (foreground) and Gosport. sire paraded his bowmen and men at arms on the Common lying along the sea front be tween Old Portsmouth and Southsea, the same greensward where 1944's champions gathered their battle kit by the landing craft. Below the downs and at the edge of one tidal creek is a solid reminder of Portsmouth's first role in Europe's history-a Roman for tress, whose walls enclose a square of nine acres now bounding the ruins of Portchester Castle. Caesar's imperial galleys, perilously vul nerable to the 15-foot tides pouring over the Channel shelves, found this land-enclosed harbor a heaven-sent refuge. The fortress the Legionaries built here was the westernmost of the chain guarding the "Saxon Shore." The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle names the year 418 as that in which the Romans "gathered together all the treasure that was in Britain. Hiding part of it underground, they bore away the rest into Gaul." The Roman tide was receding before a new wave of power "long serpent" ships of Saxon sea wolves. Of all the Anglo-Saxons, the greatest was Alfred. According to the Chronicle, he built a number of ships "twice as long as those usual in these times, some whereof had sixty oars and some more, and were of a peculiar build, of the King's own invention, being both higher, swifter, and steadier than those of either the Danes or the Frisians." Alfred's fleet began Britannia's rule here in the waters of the Wight in 897, and main tained it in a pageant of billowing red, purple, and gold "cloak of the wind" square sails of double velvet.