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New Romney First Time Sewerage Scheme 

 March 2006

Canterbury Archaeological Trust is carrying out an ongoing programme of archaeological works in advance of the New Romney and Greatstone First Time Sewerage Scheme on behalf of 4D and Southern Water. Archaeological evaluation of the route of the sewer consisting of the cutting of a number of trial trenches took place in 2004 together with the monitoring of a large number of service location test pits throughout the town.

As a result of the evaluation, further archaeological works have been carried out in areas considered to have significant archaeological potential. This involved a small excavation at the western end of Church Road, close to the junction with the Lydd Road, and an excavation within St Martin’s Field. Archaeological monitoring of the sewer pipeline and related groundworks has also been carried out since November 2005. The two excavations are now complete, though the pipeline monitoring work continues.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust was helped on both excavations by local metal detectorist Mick Allen; a great many of the metal finds were recovered by his efforts, and grateful thanks are extended to him for his many hours of work. Many thanks also to the Reverend Martin Dale for allowing us access to the church tower of St Nicholas’ Church.

Church Road excavation

New Romney: Church Road excavation, junction of Church Road and Lydd Road in background.New Romney, Church Road excavation: Taking environmental samples; cobble surfaces can also be seen.
An area at the western end of Church Road was topsoil stripped in mid September of 2005 in preparation for the construction of pumping station number 3 and also for a settling pond and a works compound. All of these works were monitored and various archaeological observations were made within the area of the settling pond which was reduced to a lower level than the rest of the compound. These consisted of shallow ditches and a scatter of finds indicating that the area was being used from the late medieval period through to the sixteenth century. An area 13 metres square around the location of the pumping station itself was also reduced to a further depth and was subject to detailed archaeological excavation. This area revealed several metalled surfaces and a sequence of pits suggesting the presence of a building nearby. The site was particularly rich in terms of finds with approximately 23 kilos of pottery as well as large quantities of brick and tile, animal bone, shell and worked stone. Metal finds included nine buckles, thirteen coins, six tokens, six knife blades, three fish hooks and an iron horse spur. The spur was a rowel spur i.e. had a multi-pointed rotating goad, rather than a single point. Such spurs were in use from the mid thirteenth century onwards. Eleven of the coins were medieval silver short-cross and long-cross pennies and included coins that had been cut in half and in quarter in order to create half pennies and farthings. The coins ranged from late twelfth to early fourteenth century, the non silver coins were unstratified and were of eighteenth to nineteenth century date. Four of the tokens were lead; the other two were copper alloy and included a French jetton dated AD 1380–1422 and a seventeenth century butcher’s token. The site was also rich in terms of environmental remains with a good assemblage of bird and fish bones as well as mollusc shells. The excavation was completed in mid October 2005.
New Romney: Medieval coins from Church Road, including long and short-cross pennies.New Romney: Part of a medieval Scarborough Ware knight jug, of approximate AD 1250–1350 date.

St Martin’s Field excavation

Excavation of a 5 metre wide area across the southern end of St Martin’s Field, off Ashford Road and Fairfield Road, commenced at the end of October 2005. The area excavated was the path of the sewerage pipeline and it was known that the area was the site of St Martin’s Church, originally the principal parish church of New Romney and its graveyard. The presence of burials had been confirmed by evaluation trenches cut by Canterbury Archaeological Trust in 2004.

New Romney, St Martin's Field Excavation: Site compound as seen from Ashford Road.New Romney, St Martin's Field Excavation: Detail of site.
The excavation proved to be located at the edge of the burial ground with a clearly demarcated line of graves to the south. In total there were forty-seven graves recorded, though eight of these were not excavated as they were outside the area impacted by the pipeline. The excavated burials are currently held in store prior to being analysed by a human bone specialist; ultimately the burials will be reburied in New Romney. Surprisingly an articulated horse and an articulated pig were also found buried within the area of the cemetery and whilst they related to a later period, after the churchyard had ceased to be used for human burial, they had nevertheless been interred in an area well known to have been a burial ground.
New Romney, St Martin's Field Excavation: Pig burial.New Romney, St Martin's Field Excavation: Horse burial.
Apart from the burials, there were many archaeological deposits noted including a ditch that seemed to have formed the boundary of the graveyard to the west. There were many dumped demolition deposits that were thought to relate to the demolition of the church in 1549 or buildings associated with the adjacent priory as well as domestic and industrial material that probably originated from buildings fronting the High Street. This site was also rich in terms of finds with twenty-four buckles, twenty-four coins, nine tokens, twelve knife blades a horse bit, three iron and one copper alloy horse spurs (making a total of five of these rare and high status items recovered from New Romney during the archaeological works). Another rare and unusual find was a loading chamber for a medieval cannon. The coins included a small hoard of silver coins consisting of three groats, a half groat and a penny of Henry VIII deposited AD 1547–48 (one of the coins is a posthumous issue). The half groat was minted in Canterbury, the other coins London. Other silver coins included a further groat of Henry VIII, a groat of Mary I, a penny and sixpence of Elizabeth I. Tokens included a French jetton of approximately AD 1385–1415 date and a German Nuremberg jetton of AD 1586–1635 date.
New Romney: Three groats, a half groat and a penny of Henry VIII deposited 1547–48.New Romney: Detail of Henry VIII groat.

Pipeline watching brief

New Romney: Church Road pipeline work seen from the tower of St Nicholas’ Church.New Romney: Pipeline work along Church Road, next to St Nicholas’ Church.
The monitoring of sewer pipe trenches and associated manhole chambers began in November of 2005. It has involved up to four members of staff working with the pipeline contractors to ensure that any archaeological remains disturbed during the groundworks are investigated and recorded. Work along Church Road revealed medieval and later road surfaces as well as medieval pits with medieval floor sequences and other associated building remains found near to the public toilets opposite St Nicholas’ Church and extending across the junction with Tritton Lane.
New Romney: Recording archaeological deposits during pipeline watching brief.New Romney: Pipeline work along Lydd Road.
New Romney: Excavation of a skeleton in Priory Close.
Trenches cut in the vicinity of Spitalfield Lane revealed drainage ditches which may have related to the Hospital of St Stephen and St Thomas. In Priory Close a fragment of wall and an inhumation were discovered. The wall probably relates to a building forming part of the hospital with the burial perhaps one of the inmates. A thick sequence of clay floors was located in the pipe trench in Lydd Road and excavated in a manhole at the junction with West Street and Lions Road. The earliest floors date from around the early twelfth century and the latest from the early to mid seventeenth, the building was presumably demolished to allow the western extension of the High Street. A further potential building was identified lying across Lions Road. This suggests that this road did not in the medieval period join up with Victoria Street but was probably extended after the demolition of St Lawrence Church. Traces of medieval buildings have also been discovered in North Street.Evidence for possible huts was found at the end of Lydd Road close to the excavation at Church Road. These probably related to fishing and other associated activities as they would have lain on the beachside in the medieval period. Preserved timber posts and planks have been recovered from trenching on Church Lane, near to St Nicholas’ Church probably forming part of a medieval wharf or revetment.Elsewhere, inhumation burials relating to the Hospital of St John have been recorded in various gardens along St John’s Road and Sussex Road during the installation of private connections. A series of pits located in the area of the pumping station next to the model railway on Rolfe Lane may have related to the site of the nearby moated manor as this area lies very much on the periphery of the medieval town. Evidence for industrial activity exists in several areas of the town, this generally appears to have been metal working.The observation and recording of the pipeline work will enable us to formulate a far clearer picture of medieval New Romney.Mick Diack
More information available in Canterbury’s Archaeology 2004–2005, Kent Sites and Post Excavation and Research.

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