Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Turing College excavation

June 24th, 2013

A huge excavation is presently underway on the University of Kent campus. The work, being funded by the University, has exposed a remarkable array of mainly Iron Age features. The excavation is being undertaken in advance of the construction of Turing College on the western edge of the university campus, close to Keynes College. The site, covering some 4.2 hectares of steeply sloping ground with panoramic views across Canterbury, is still being stripped of topsoil at the moment, but already we can see that we are dealing with an exceptionally interesting and important site, perhaps a settlement pre-dating Iron Age Canterbury.
Aerial view of the siteWatching machiningTuring College excavation
Turing College excavationTuring College excavationTuring College excavation
Using newly-acquired satellite surveying equipment, Crispin Jarman is producing a mapping plan that is growing on a daily basis as new ground is cleared. A field team at least thirty-five strong is hard at work sampling the vast array of features that have been laid bare. Working to a strict timetable, we have to date completed a large area north of Beverley Farm, revealing metalled trackways, ditches, pits, post-holes for fence lines and buildings, hearths, fire-pits and a rare Iron Age well containing the remains of a notched timber ladder and part of a possible wooden shovel. The subsoil is ghastly: a horrible glutinous clay when wet, turning to fissured concrete when dry. But the team, comprising our own full-time staff supplemented by new archaeologists from home and abroad including students from the University of Kent, is stepping up and is managing the task admirably. We are committed to a tight schedule for this work.
Turing College excavationTuring College excavationTuring College excavation
Turing College excavationTuring College excavationTuring College excavation
The upper levels of the site are filled with features representing entire field systems, settlement compounds and animal pens. There is even a compound defining a small cemetery containing cremation burials, some in pottery vessels but others perhaps originally interred in wooden, textile or leather containers that have not survived. A bewildering profusion of post-holes can on examination be seen to represent square, rectangular and subcircular buildings. Some of these associated with hearths. Other hearths sit in seeming isolation, with no features around them, suggesting perhaps a building with no earthfast posts. There are many four-post granary-type buildings and others of domestic type. Others defy interpretation at the moment. Features are generally rich in prehistoric pottery, although finds of other kinds are relatively rare. At a glance the pottery dates from the early to late Iron Age, say from 700 to 50 BC.
Turing College excavationTuring College excavationTuring College excavation

UPDATE | Open Day: 25th July

Turing College at University of Kent

June 13th, 2013

Our excavation up at the University of Kent is uncovering a wealth Iron Age features.
More information will be posted here soon…
Turing College excavationTuring College excavationTuring College excavation

Float the Boat!

May 3rd, 2013

Our Kickstarter project, designed to raise funds to take the replica of the Dover Bronze Age Boat to sea, has been launched! We need to achieve a minimum of £20,000 within 30 days! Kickstarter allows you to pledge money towards this total, in return for which you will receive a reward, depending on the level of your pledge.
The Dover Bronze Age Boat: excavationThe Dover Bronze Age Boat: displayThe Dover Bronze Age Boat: replica
In order to pledge, you will have to create a Kickstarter account, which takes only a few moments. Once that is done, and once the project is launched, you will be able to back the project at your chosen level. We will only be able to actually draw down your pledged funds if we are successful (that is, pledges reach £20,000 or more). In this case the funds would be claimed within 14 days after the 30 day Kickstarter project closes.

We hope that you will be able to back the project and please do tell as many people about it as possible! Go to:
and help us float the boat!
Dover Boat Kickstarter Project

Dr Frank Panton 1923-2013

April 29th, 2013

Dr Frank Panton
Dr Frank Panton, former Chairman of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust and Hon Librarian of the Kent Archaeological Society, died on 8th April 2013. His funeral will be held tomorrow, 30th April at All Saints Church, Tunstall.

Francis Harry Panton was born in Lincoln on 25th May 1923 and educated at the City School. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers as reconnaissance officer of No 1 Bomb Disposal Company, responsible for locating and identifying enemy explosive devices throughout Northern Command (between the Wash and the Scottish border). In 1948 his work in hazardous bomb disposal operations was recognised by his appointment as MBE (Military).

After demobilisation he went to Nottingham University, where he took a BSc in Chemistry and a PhD. After a brief spell with ICI he was recruited by Military Intelligence his special interest in atomic weapons and knowledge of Russian developments in the field. As a scientist, Frank remained in Government service from 1953-83. His posts included: Technical Adviser to the UK Delegation to the Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Tests, Geneva, 1959-61; Defence Attaché, British Embassy, Washington DC, 1963-67; Assistant Chief Scientific Adviser (Nuclear), Ministry of Defence (MoD), 1969-75; Director, Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment (Waltham Abbey and Westcott) 1976-79; Director, Royal Army Research and Development Establishment, Fort Halstead, 1980-4. Post-retirement, he was Consultant to the Cabinet Secretary on Nuclear matters 1985-97 and Consultant to MoD, as Independent Member of Nuclear Weapon and Nuclear Propulsion Safety Committees, 1984-99. For his services to Government Frank was made CBE in 1997.

After this long and distinguished career, Dr Panton moved to Canterbury in 1983 and in 1985 joined Canterbury Archaeological Trust as Chairman of the Management Committee.

He was by any standards an exceptional Chairman, assisting the Director and the Committee to put the Trust on a sound financial footing and with wise counsel and a steady nerve, guided the organisation through two recessions. At the same time he enrolled in the University of Kent and obtained a PhD in Local History. Among his many achievements as Chairman, Frank helped the Trust to purchase its own premises at 92A Broad Street, and over time, to refit them. Frank was involved in many of the Trust’s greatest discoveries, during the construction of the Channel Tunnel Terminal at Cheriton; major excavations in the centre of Canterbury and during road building in East Kent. He took particular pride in the Trust’s spectacular discovery of a perfectly preserved Bronze Age boat beneath the streets of Dover in 1992 and of a sequence of Anglo-Saxon churches beneath the nave of Canterbury Cathedral in 1994. When Frank retired as Chairman in 2000, these projects and other works undertaken by the Trust in the field, in education and publication had established the organisation as an industry leader, with a national reputation for the quality of its work.

Following the discovery of the Dover Bronze Age Boat a decision was made to form a board of Trustees to raise funds to preserve the remains and place them on display in a purpose-built gallery in Dover. The Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust was formed in 1994, with Frank as the first Chairman. Working with the Trustees and Dover Museum particularly Robin Westbrook and Christine Waterman, Frank the magician, wove spells around everyone to pave the way, to solve challenging problems and to win over anyone who could help achieve the Trust’s objectives. The internationally renowned, award-winning boat gallery in Dover Museum is one of Frank’s greatest achievements and legacy to Dover and Kent.
Frank also made a considerable contribution academically and administratively to the Kent Archaeological Society over the years as an author of articles published in the society’s journal, Archaeologia Cantiana, as a Vice President, as an active member of Council and the Education Committee since early in the 1990s.

He was appointed the Hon Librarian of the Society in 2000 and since then has revised and re-ordered the contents and the activities in the Library of the Society. In the Library he ensured that many resources were made available to the members both though greater organisation and though championing the use of the Internet.   A true bibliophile he spent a lot of time and effort on making the Library accessible, attractive and well stocked.  Even when his health started to deteriorate he would make it in for the Wednesday morning meetings and take a keen and active interest in the running of the Library.  His absence will be felt deeply, not only in administrative terms, but also socially, where his learning, dry wit, and well told anecdotes were much appreciated.

Frank was an exceptionally talented man and a great friend, mentor and teacher to many. He gave freely and unstintingly of his time, considerable talents and experience to all those organisations he supported. His wise counsel, dry wit and friendship will be sadly missed by all of us.

Paul Bennett

Archaeology and Standing Buildings study day

March 20th, 2013

Joint Wye Rural Museum Trust, Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Kent Archaeological Society one-day workshop on Saturday 14 September 2013, 10.00 to 16.00, at the Agricultural Museum, Brook, near Wye, Kent.


Rescue Dig of the Year

March 5th, 2013

We are pleased to announce that Keith Parfitt won Current Archaeology’s Rescue Dig of the Year award for the A Town Unearthed excavation at Folkestone Roman villa.  ‘Folkestone: Roman Villa or Iron Age oppidum?’ published in Current Archaeology 262, was up against some worthy competition. Well done Keith and everyone who worked at the dig and thank you to everyone who took part in the vote!
Keith Parfitt with the award
See Canterbury’s Archaeology 2010-2011 to read about the first season of excavation and activites at the villa.

Let Them Speak for Themselves

March 5th, 2013

Up on the Downs is looking for volunteers to help with a survey of twentieth-century military and civil defence structures on the Downs around Dover and Folkestone. A large number of these sites are recorded, but many are incorrectly located. Volunteers are needed to help accurately locate as many as possible, and identify any that have not been previously recorded. In addition, we want to survey the current condition of these important remains. Based on the results of this survey, volunteers will then be able to carry out remedial works on some of them in the next stage of the project.

Up on the Downs projectUp on the Downs projectUp on the Downs project

From the archive

February 21st, 2013

This photograph, which recently came to light in our library, was taken in 1989 when the three archaeologists who pioneered post-war excavations in the city were joined by Tim Tatton-Brown, our first director, and his successor, Paul Bennett, at the 15th International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies held in September at the University of Kent.  From left to right is Tim Tatton-Brown, Professor John Wacher, Paul Bennett, Professor Sheppard Frere and Dr Frank Jenkins.  Sadly both John Wacher and Frank Jenkins are no longer with us, but their work and that of Professor Sheppard Frere and the Canterbury Excavations Committee still informs much of what we do today.

Archive photo

    open all | close all