Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

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.

FLYER AND BOOKING FORM [PDF]



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
FULL DETAILS ON THE FLYER [PDF]



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



Volunteer at Lyminge Archaeological Project

February 21st, 2013

Plans are now well underway for Lyminge Archaeological Project’s 2013 summer season and anyone interested in volunteering can now book a place for an induction. Inductions are compulsory if you want excavate, and anyone over the age of 16 can work on the dig. Go to: www.lymingearchaeology.org/taking-part/ for more information on how to sign up for an induction. Volunteers from last year who have already attended an induction don’t need to do another one.

Applications for student bursaries are now being accepted. If you are a current university student (at any level) in archaeology or a related discipline then you are eligible to apply for a bursary. Go to http://www.reading.ac.uk/archaeology/research/Lyminge/.

If you are a student who doesn’t want to apply for a bursary and simply wants to attend the dig on an ad hoc basis you are welcome to join the team, especially if you live locally, though you must sign up for an induction.

Find out all about the project at www.lymingearchaeology.org



New Year Honours

January 7th, 2013

Lawrence Lyle, one of the founders of the Trust back in 1976, has been honoured by the Queen.  He has been appointed an MBE for his services to archaeology and local history and we are all very proud.

Back in the mid 1970s, Lawrence joined with other local enthusiasts to lobby for a professional archaeological unit to be set up in Canterbury, and after campaigning, which gained both national and local support, the Trust came into existence in April 1976.  Lawrence acted as Company Secretary and remained in post until 2008. He has been chairman of the Friends, continues to serve on their committee and also the publications committee of the Trust. But his support has always extended far beyond any official post. His presence, with his wife, Marjorie, is woven into the fabric of the Trust.

Typical of Lawrence’s quiet generosity is his comment on his MBE quoted in the local press this week.  ”I am particularly delighted as I regard it as a tribute to the work of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust”.  All at the Trust would like to say that we are ABSOLUTELY delighted that his long and dedicated support and service has been so wonderfully honoured.
Lawrence and Marjorie Lyle



Beyond the Horizon

December 18th, 2012

The travelling exhibition ‘Beyond the Horizon: Societies of the Channel and North Sea 3,500 years ago’ opened at Ename, Belgium on Saturday, 15th December.  Here are some photos taken at the opening.
replica boat replica boatreplica boat
costumebreastplatebreastplate
arm ringcupgold hoard
experimental mouldopening day

The exhibition continues at Ename until 26th May 2013 and then all the treasures and the replica boat will cross the Channel to Dover.  The exhibition will open at Dover Museum later in the summer.

Until then, those on this side of the Channel can see the actual Bronze Age boat in its prizewinning gallery at Dover Museum.



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