Other than some remains of pottery and Gallic arms that Abbot Cochet claimed to have found in the surrounding area, there were no souvenirs of this distant period. There is a mention of a “Camp de César’ or “Cité de Limes”. In fact the excavation plans carried out by Pierre-Jacques Féret between 1822 and 1827 gave evidence of Gallic and Gallo-Roman occupations within the boundary walls, as well as remains of a “fanum” of a square map. There was a second phase of excavation in order to evaluate the density of the occupation in the zone threatened by erosion. The receding of the cliff, estimated at 30cm per year between1830 and 1996, gradually caused the northern part of the Camp to subside.
The name Dieppe, meaning ‘deep’ in Anglo-Saxon, was given by the Normans in the 7th and 8th centuries, because the bed created by the river Arques in the chalk plateau of the Caux valley, enabled the docking of ships from the high seas. In 1195, Philippe August pushed back Richard Lion Heart and destroyed the town. The duchy of Normandy, annexed in 1204, became French until François 1st. The French kings reconciled the inhabitants of this strategic site by granting them several privileges. Dieppe now becomes a town of multiple adventurers.
The port activities enabled ship-owners to become rich and Dieppe became one of the leading markets in France. In 1420, the English captured the town and treated it as a rebel. In 1453, Capitan Desmarets, helped by the future king Louis XI and the inhabitants of Dieppe, took back the town and immediately started building the castle.
In the 16th century the ship owner Jehan Ango’s vessels ploughed the seas of Brazil, Africa and North America, bringing great prosperity to the town. The ship-owner made a fortune thanks to his pirates and helped François 1st in his battle against the English. This century also belonged to Abraham Duquesne who was at the helm of the French fleet during several battles that he won. Refusing to adopt Protestantism, he was never made Admiral despite his various victories.
Under François 1st and his successors important work was done and the town knew its golden age. However, civil and religious wars of the 16th century put an end to its prosperity.
From 1668 to 1670, 10,000 persons lost their lives in the plague epidemic. In 1694 Dieppe was destroyed by the Anglo-Dutch fleet; with the exception of the Pollet area, the churches, some houses and the castle, the town was razed to the ground. Under the orders of Louis XIV, the engineer Ventabren undertook the immediate reconstruction and broadening of the streets. The‘Royal Square’, which became the National Square at the revolution, was created, churches restored and brick houses rose from the old ruins. Invaded twice by the Prussians during the 1870 war, the town suffered even more during the Second World War.
Today the town of Dieppe has reached the urban limits. The stakes now are the rehabilitation of the old areas and the requalification of some of the harbour industrial wastelands. Since 1997, the old areas of Pollet and Saint-Pierre are now part of an Architectural, Urban and Scenic Protection Zone.