Folkestone and the surrounding area has a lot of archaeology. There are Bronze Age burial mounds, Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, Roman remains, Napoleonic Towers, Edwardian Promenades, and Second World War features. The focus of the project last season was a Roman Villa situated on top of East Cliff, which is eroding into the sea and tragically taking the Villa with it! This wasn't the first time the Villa had been excavated however. In the 1920s S.E. Winbolt was invited to excavate the site as Roman finds had been popping up for decades and set about uncovering the walls (see image below). The site was left open to the public, and indeed was extremely popular, until post-war austerity forced it's closure in 1956 when the site was re-covered.
|Post card of the uncovered Roman Villa (image courtesy of CAT)|
(There is a more detailed history at http://www.atownunearthed.co.uk/folkestone-before-1500/history-of-the-roman-villa-site/the-roman-site-at-east-wear-bay/ ). The site was briefly re-opened again in the 1980s but had remained untouched until last year when hoards of volunteers from in and around Folkestone descended on the site and it saw the light of day once more! Some fabulous finds were uncovered including coins, a hare brooch (below), stamped roof tiles, decorated Samian Ware, and a decorated gemstone from a ring. Evidence for Iron Age activity showed up beneath the Villa and there is a strong case for going back to fully research the site before it is lost to the sea forever.
| Part of the uncovered Villa walls and the Hare Brooch; |
the edge of the cliff is just behind that fencing
(photos courtesy of CAT)
Although the Villa site has been recovered there is currently an exhibition on in Folkestone Library and Museum called Earth and Vision - Images of the Archaeology and Landscape of Folkestone 1538-2012 (http://www.atownunearthed.co.uk/event/exhibition-earth-and-vision/) which is curated by Bryan Hawkins of Canterbury Christ Church University, and explores the boundaries between archaeology and art. It's the first of a series of exhibitions on this project so if you have the chance, go and have a look.
...to be continued....