Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Autumn archaeology

September 5th, 2016

Next Saturday sees the first of some interesting local conferences and talks which are coming up this autumn.

Early Medieval Kent, 800-1220: Saturday 10 September
A joint Christ Church Canterbury University/Centre for Kent History and Heritage/Friends of Canterbury Archaeological Trust venture. It takes place at the Old Sessions House, Longport, Canterbury, starting at 10.00 am. Eight speakers will cover topics in four sessions: Raiders, Invaders and Settlers; Aspects of Landscape; The Church; The City of Canterbury. Great value at £10/£8 (FCAT)/students free.  Full details and how to book here.

Folkestone’s Wild Frontier: Saturday 8 October
This event has been organised in collaboration with the Up on the Downs Landscape Partnership Scheme to support the work of the East Wear Bay Archaeological Field School. Taking place at The Quarterhouse, 49 Tontine Street, Folkestone, there is a full programme of talks throughout the day, followed by an evening of live music in the Quarterhouse Bar from 7.30pm.  Admission donations on the door.

CAT@40: Thursday 10 November
If you missed Paul Bennett’s review of 40 years of work by the Trust at the Beaney in April, there’s a chance to hear more of the story at Waterstones bookshop in St Margaret’s Street, starting at 6.30 pm. Tickets £3.oo from the St Margaret’s Street shop.

Villas in the Roman Landscape: Saturday 26 November
The importance of Roman villas in the landscape and history of Kent will be the theme of a one-day conference sponsored by the Kent Archaeological Society in association with the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies, University of Kent, to be held at Rutherford College at the university.  More details and booking here.

And don’t forget, our own evening course Canterbury’s Tale: the story of a city from the Ice Age to the Tudors, begins on Tuesday 27 September.  Just the thing as the days get shorter and longer evenings approach.

Exhibition on tour

August 2nd, 2016

A thank you to Dover Museum for hosting our exhibition ’40years: Canterbury Archaeological Trust’ until December.  In January the exhibition will move to Maidstone where it will be on display until March.

Open Day at East Wear Bay

July 28th, 2016

We’ve almost reached ‘half term’ at the East Wear Bay field school, with two more weeks to go.  Visitors are always welcome, and on Wednesday 3rd August we will be holding an Open Day, so please do come along and see how we’ve been getting on.

Our students and volunteers have been busy uncovering more of the late Iron Age/early Roman quern production floor discovered last year.  At least twenty discarded broken querns in varying stages of manufacture have come to light.  The manufacturing area lies over the drip gully of an Iron Age round-house – the arc visible in the second drone shot below.
East Wear Bay Field SchoolEast Wear Bay Field SchoolEast Wear Bay Field School
And we had a surprise visitor on our second day … thanks to volunteer Ray Duff for the photograph!
Tony Robinson visits the Field School
Will there be more surprises before Wednesday?

Canterbury Cathedral Festival of Archaeology

July 20th, 2016

Date 1: Mon 25th Jul 2016, 10:00-16:00
Date 2: Tue 26th Jul 2016, 10:00-16:00

Find out about excavations in the Cathedral Precincts this summer by Canterbury Archaeological Trust and take part in fun hands-on activities including finds investigation, a mini archaeological dig, medieval coin bash and guided tours of Cathedral archaeology. Drop-in activities suitable for all ages. Fully accessible. More details here.

Run by the Canterbury Journey Learning and Participation team at Canterbury Cathedral in partnership with Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
(Usual Precincts charges apply. Free for Canterbury Cathedral Precincts pass holders.)
Festival of Archaeology

‘Pleased to meet you’

July 7th, 2016

The half-size replica is enjoying another busy summer.  Not long returned from the Ostende voor Anker festival, it is about to be reloaded onto its trailer and taken to Tatihou in Normandy. There, from 10-16 July, it be on display at the port of Saint-Vaast-la Hougue as part of the town’s exhibition Pleased to meet you! Cross channel relations from prehistory to William the Conqueror. Later in the week it will be joined by other historic ships which will have sailed down from Barfleur as part of the town’s maritime festival. As they say in France, ‘Un bel exemple de relation transmanche!’

“Ik spreek geen Vlaams” at Oostende voor Anker festival!

July 6th, 2016

Marion Green writes: Anticipating talking to hundreds of Flemish visitors about the Bronze Age boat replica at this marine festival at the end of May, like a good teacher I did some prep. With the help of Flemish Kristien, one of our newest excavators at the Trust, I put together a few sentences. Trying the native language always goes down well and some English vocabulary relating to the boat was very similar in Flemish. Most of our festival visitors were happy to speak French or English though and these were our languages of choice for three days.

As we found in Boulogne-sur-Mer last year, people were enthralled by the story of the Dover boat discovery and in awe of the imagination and skills of our ancestors – demonstrated so well by the wonderful replica vessel, an experimental archaeology exercise for the European project ‘Boat 1550 BC’.

We could confidently deal with questions about the technologies involved in making both the boat and the tools used while ‘Do you know if the original boat was made in England, France or Flanders?’ or ‘Do you think they all spoke the same language back then?’ were questions we couldn’t answer – but we could muse over them together.
Replica Bronze Age boat in OstendReplica Bronze Age boat in OstendReplica Bronze Age boat in Ostend
People remarked on how important it is to do such work – recovering the original boat and using the replica to demonstrate the capabilities of people 3,500 years ago and perhaps influence some modern misconceptions about our prehistoric ancestors. Further, people were fascinated to hear about the archaeological evidence we have for links between the lands we now know as south- east England, Northern France and Flanders over 3,000 years ago. The same kinds of tools, pottery etc found on sites in these three areas demonstrate communication between their peoples and it is quite possible that the original Dover boat – and others like it – enabled this.

Encouraging an awareness of this bond in the past among 21st century communities on either side of the Channel was at the heart of the ‘Boat 1550 BC’ project … and actively promoting the original and replica boat at occasions like the Boulogne and Oostend festivals really does enhance this giving a fantastic opportunity for lots of positive engagement. People seem to genuinely benefit from the experience.

We certainly flew the flag for Dover Museum and the Dover Boat Gallery over the three days so museum staff might like to try this out … “Dit is een boot uit de Bronstijd”.

Midsummer digging in Sandwich and Canterbury

June 15th, 2016

‘Digging into Sandwich’s past’ started today on Cow Leas Meadow and will continue until 25th June. For how to volunteer contact Dover District Council on 01304 872274 or email them ( Or go along and have a look – especially on the ‘open days’, Saturday 18th and 25th.
The trenches are opened ...
And from Monday a small team will return to the Westgate Gardens to resume the community dig focussed on Roman Watling Street where it crosses the park.  This will be the final dig for the Heritage Lottery Fund/Canterbury City Council Westgate Parks Project. Excavation will be on a slightly smaller scale this year, targeting the connection between the early road and roadside building platforms uncovered in previous years.  Jake Weekes and colleagues will be happy to explain what has been discovered as the week progresses. Just drop by and give Jake a shout.

On Saturday 25th, as part of the Westgate Parks Open Day, volunteers are welcome to come and try some ‘pot washing’. Come and have a go at cleaning some of the artefacts discovered during this year’s excavation. Everyone is welcome, as you can see from these photos from last year!
Westgate Gardens Community DigWestgate Community DigWestgate Gardens Community Dig

Digging into the History of Sandwich

June 6th, 2016

A chance for you to take part in an archaeological dig in Sandwich!

Volunteers are being sought to take part in an excavation from 15–25 June.

The dig is funded by the Coastal Revival Fund as part of a project involving Dover District Council, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Sandwich Town Council to learn more about medieval Sandwich.  The project aims to learn more about the activity of the Whitefriars, who were Carmelite Friars and whose Friary pre-dates both the ancient town walls and town ditch. The dig will help to confirm whether or not the grounds of the Friary extended into what is now the Cow Leas Meadow.
Sandwich Uncovered
The dig will complement other ongoing history projects related to the Sandwich Friars. The Sandwich Heritage Group will be hosting a free talk at the Sandwich Guildhall on 8 June at 7.30pm and invite anyone who would like to learn more about any of these projects to come along. The talk will involve our own Keith Parfitt who will be leading the dig on the Cow Leas Meadow, and the talk will review the current state of research on the Whitefriars and the rediscovery of the convent well at Woodnesborough.

If you would like to volunteer either phone Dover District Council on 01304 872274 or email:

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