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St James’ shopping centre, Dover


An exhibition of material recovered during excavations by Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 2015–2017

Exhibition Dates: Monday 18th July to Wednesday 31st August

Funded thanks to the generosity of Legal & General Investment Management Limited

General view the St James’ area from the Western Heights cleared and ready for redevelopment

Between 2015 and 2017 considerable local interest was generated as tens of thousands of items were unearthed during major excavations in the area now occupied by the St James’ shopping centre, Dover. It will be several years before the study of this amazing collection comes to an end. However, for the first time archaeologists have an opportunity to display some of the material recovered, share some of the stories these items tell, and place the stories within the history of what was a unique, overlooked, and often surprising part of the town.

The exhibition presents excavated finds alongside a series of display boards that tell the history of the area. Located between the eastern banks of the Dour valley, the high ground dominated by the castle, and the sea, the area is known to have been continuously occupied since at least 1150 AD.

Starting at the present day, the boards take visitors on a journey backwards in time, with fascinating insights into the post-war regeneration of Dover, sections covering the town’s major role in both World Wars, and the 19th century construction of buildings such as an orphanage, a gas depot, houses and workshops.

The exhibition draws a distinction between the period covering the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, when fine houses were first built in the area, and the earlier medieval period, when the area was characterised by small wooden houses occupied by poor families that worked in the fishing industry. Artefacts on display in cases in the centre of the exhibition reflect this difference. A rare imported German Werra slipware plate represents one of the best items recovered from the post-medieval period, while early medieval material recovered from the waste pits of the fishing community includes a huge assemblage of fish bones, believed to be the largest every recovered from a site in Britain.

Working in partnership with Dover Museum and with the support of staff and managers of the St James Centre, archaeologists from Canterbury Archaeological Trust aim to hold a series of additional events within the exhibition space throughout the summer. These will include hands-on ‘be an archaeologist’ days for children, an illustrated talk by Project Director Keith Parfitt, and opportunities to learn first-hand from specialists about some of the amazing discoveries made.

with updates on the C·A·T and St James Dover websites:

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