Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Romans at the bottom of the garden

August 21st, 2014

A community dig in the Westgate Gardens hopes to uncover one of Britain’s oldest roads – Roman Watling Street. A test-pit on the site has confirmed that the road passes through the park as well as uncovering Roman pottery, so there should be plenty to see as the dig gets going.

Over 40 volunteers will be working over the Bank Holiday weekend (Friday to Monday) with staff from the Trust on hand to talk about what is being found. The weather is set fair, so take a walk to the park and catch a glimpse of Canterbury’s ancient past.

The community dig is part of the Westgate Parks project. To find out about the project visit

Bronze Age themed resource for new Prehistory programme – the BOAT KIT

August 14th, 2014

Summer 2014 and the three year European project ‘BOAT 1550 BC’ has just closed.  When we began planning for this, Prehistory barely got a mention in the English school curriculum but from September, schools are required to teach the Stone Age through to the Iron Age to children at Key Stage 2 (7 to 11 year olds).  So now teachers are ravenous for all things prehistoric!

Well, we can help them with that. As a product of ‘BOAT 1550 BC’, we now have twelve, identical BOAT KITs lodged with the CAT BOX collections for loan to Kent schools; in accordance with  the project aims, sets of kits are also held in Northern France and Flanders, for use with schools there.

The BOAT KIT contains a Teaching Guide, USB pen of digital resources, replica bronze axe, pottery ‘Beaker’ and bronze dress pin, catalogue from the ‘BOAT 1550 BC’ exhibition and other items for simple classroom activities.

‘I am feeling much more positive about teaching Bronze Age and the new curriculum next year and I am now actually trying to work out how I can schedule it for my year group rather than somebody else’s!   The resources that you have provided are terrific …’  Key Stage 2 teacher, Maidstone.

You can order a BOAT KIT by going to the CAT BOX page for conditions and loans catalogue.
The Bronze Age BOAT KIT
Find more about the BOAT KIT and associated activities.

What lies within?

July 3rd, 2014

Here are the CT scans promised in our post last week.

The pots all come from part of a Roman cemetery excavated recently on Rhodaus Town behind Augustine House and the former Peugeot garage.  Some twenty graves were found, all in a small rectangular enclosure in a cemetery which seems to have been established in the late third century, and  in use until the late fourth. The graves differ from other late Roman burials found in Canterbury in that they are more elaborate in terms of their construction and their contents. The fact that they were clustered together in a relatively small enclosure also serves to set them apart from other Roman graves in the vicinity.

The CT scans were made whilst the pots were still filled with soil to find out whether any votive objects were present within them. Such pots often contained foodstuffs or personal ornaments and the pictures clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology.
Rhodaus Town grave 1Rhodaus Town grave 5Rhodaus Town grave 9
Rhodaus Town grave 14Rhodaus Town grave 16Rhodaus Town grave 17
Rhodaus Town grave 12Rhodaus Town grave 16

Row, row, row the boat

July 2nd, 2014

On Sunday 10th August, weather permitting, an intrepid crew will attempt to paddle the replica boat between Folkestone  and Dover harbours. The crew has been in training at weekends for some weeks now and is gearing up for the 8 mile row in the open waters of the Channel, so everything is crossed in hope that fair weather and calm seas allow the challenge.

Good vantage points for viewing and cheering on will be Copt Point and Samphire Hoe and, of course, a welcoming party at Dover Harbour would be especially appreciated. It could be some celebration!
Crew in trainingCrew in trainingCrew in training
And there’s talk of entering the Great River Race, billed as London’s River Marathon, on Saturday 27th September!

News from the Finds Room

June 25th, 2014

Some of the late third- and fourth-century pots recently excavated at Rhodaus Town in Canterbury. Several at least date to the second half of the fourth century. Note the very unusual large stamp-decorated pot with face at the back of the picture. They have been described as the best assemblage of complete Roman pottery vessels to emerge from Canterbury since the 1970′s.

Most were part of burial groups and some were CT-scanned before their contents were removed. Pictures to follow.
Rhodaus Town Roman potteryRhodaus Town Roman pottery

Spring clean

April 9th, 2014

The replica Dover boatThe replica Dover boat has been sitting happily in Dover Marina since October, riding out the winter. Last week we fished her out for a spring clean and a bit of TLC. She’s now been cleaned up and her seams made good, ready for an active year ahead. Hopefully she’ll be going back into the water very soon and we’ll bring you some photos of her in her newly cleaned state then. We have big plans for her this year, so watch this space…

Twenty Roman burials

March 24th, 2014

Rhodaus Town burialAn excavation at Rhodaus Town has just finished. Some remarkable features were excavated including late Roman burials accompanied by an exceptional number of pottery vessels and other personal objects. We will post more as the story unfolds …

… a bit like buses

March 12th, 2014

It’s usually the fieldwork side of our activites that provides the news, but all the time in the background people are working on the post-excavation side of things. And every now and then it all comes together and something is published. I don’t think it’s ever happened that TWO publications have arrived from the printer at the same time.  Today we welcomed the arrival of our new look Annual Review and also the ninth of  our Occasional Papers, the snappily-titled Prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon Discoveries on the East Kent Chalklands – investigations along the Whitfield-Eastry by-pass 1991-1996!

Canterbury's Archaeology 2012-2013Whitfield-Eastry

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Useful links:

Boat 1550 BC
Ename Heritage Centre
CSI: Sittingbourne
Dover Harbour Board
The Historical Association
The Festival of British Archaeology
Maidstone Museum
Canterbury Heritage Museum
Sidney Cooper Gallery
A Town Unearthed: Earth and Vision
Folkestone Library
Beads, Boats and Flowerbeds
Kent Archaeological Society
White Cliffs Countryside Partnership
Wye Rural Museum Trust
Canterbury Climate & Fair Trade Market