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FOLKESTONE ROMAN VILLA
Appeal for Funds.
Major excavations were carried out on the well-known Roman Villa at East Cliff, Folkestone in 1989 and reported in the KAR (Number 98, page169). The villa was discovered by Mr S Winbolt in 1923 and largely excavated by him and a group of unemployed workmen in 1924. It lay close to the cliff-edge and about 100 feet above the beach and it was the sea erosion that had first exposed the villa in 1923.
The excavation received wide publicity in the national press and on completion the finds were placed in Folkestone Museum. Two main ranges of rooms were discovered including one room with a small, but damaged mosaic floor. The site was left open for public visits, but it deteriorated badly during World War II when it was occupied by troops defending the cliffs. It was later filled in by Folkestone Council.
The 1989 excavation was carried out by a team from the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit (KARU) from Dover assisted by CKA local groups. The specific aim was to excavate a large area of the villa (Blocks B+C) to check on the degree of erosion suffered since the original excavation 65 years earlier. Several of the rooms were then re-excavated when it was found that four small rooms of Block C had been lost of the cliff in the time. This showed that only 30 feet of land had been lost in the 65 years, which produced a rate of just six inches per annum. Regular six-monthly checks by Unit staff since the recent excavation happily shows that almost nothing has been lost in the past 19 years. The original work was jointly funded by KARU, the Kent Archaeological Trust and Shepway Council., but this limited funding only covered the actual excavation, the consolidation of the masonry and the backfilling. No funds have been available since and only a preliminary report has been published (KAR 99 page 206). A final detailed Report is now overdue so the CKA is appealing yet again for financial support to achieve completion of the project. The preparation of the site-plans and sections, the drawing of objects, the written text and the production costs are likely to be about £14,500. Any organisation willing to offer funds for this important work is invited to contact the KAR editor.