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Lifting cremations at #thanetparkway

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

In this post we will be showing you how we lift the larger cremation urns. Where possible we try to lift them intact to be brought back to the office for careful excavation. Excavating the contents of an urn on site is not practical and by doing it in the office we ensure none of the contents are lost.

Ancient cremations can have substantial survival of bones so much so that information about the individual can sometimes be found out. Other material would have been gathered up with the bone such as pyre debris, pyre goods, and environmental evidence. Cremations can be a mine of information!

(We advise watching with the cc captions turned on)

In the video you see Phil carefully wrapping the vessel in cling film. This is to keep the pot together and stable whilst it is lifted. It also protects the vessel during transportation. Some archaeologists will use plaster of paris or expanding foam to give extra protection, but these can be difficult to remove and can cause further damage if not applied carefully. Kirsty has padded out a sample bucket which will provide stable transportation and storage until it is ready to be excavated.

There are four pots in a line lining a hole. The pot to the far left is a wine flask, next to it is a samian dish, then a large black cremation urn, and then another black pot.
The cremation urn is second from right. The other pots would have contained offerings of food and wine.

We will keep you posted on what comes out of it!


Thanet Parkway is to be a new railway station on the Ashford International-Ramsgate line. Details on the proposed station can be found on the Kent County Council website here. The archaeological work at Thanet Parkway is being managed by the WSP Cultural Heritage and Archaeology team. If you would like to ask a question about the excavation please email us using the contact form on our main page or by leaving a comment here. Questions about the station and project can be raised with KCC from their website here.

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