Monday, April 30, 2012


Today I will be, hopefully, explaining Flowerbeds. Now I'm sure you all know what flowerbeds are and I'm not here to discuss planting herbaceous borders, but instead talk about the whole scale destruction of them to see what archaeology lies beneath. I am doing this through A Town Unearthed: Folkestone before 1500 (, a Heritage Lottery Fund ( funded community project that has been running for 3 years and is due to finish next Spring. For more background on how the project came into being, click here: There is so many elements to this project and I could not do them justice here, I am going to briefly talk about the archaeology below but please do have a look at their web-site to see the sorts of things that have going on. Hopefully I will be able to let you know about some of the other activities into later posts.

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 ). 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)
This year heralds a new season with a slightly different approach to the archaeology side. We will not be revisiting the Villa site again but will be conducting smaller Keyholes (also known as Test Pits) to establish the extent of the Roman and Iron Age site. We are hoping to drop some keyholes into back gardens (hence flowerbeds) in the east of Folkestone, and are currently trying to recruit some eager garden owners to sign up their lawns for the purpose. Watch this space!

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 ( 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. be continued....

No comments:

Post a Comment