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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Further Work at Warbank, Keston.
by Brian Philp.
(West Kent Border Archaeological Group.)

Since the dramatic discovery last September of another substantial tomb in the Roman cemetery at Warbank, Keston (KAR, Number 11, page 10), work has continued on the site. The area around the large circular mausoleum has been totally excavated and a number of boxes opened in readiness for more detailed work in the Spring.

It was found that the 1828 and 1961 excavations had also missed six other burials, again all close to the principal tombs. Two skeletons of young infants, probably about 2 to 6 weeks old, had been buried without ceremony. Three other graves contained older children buried in wooden coffins of which only the iron nails remained. The sixth was that of an adult cremation placed in a Patch Grove jar covered with a broken tile. Further burials may be found as the excavation is extended.

With the coming of better weather conditions, the re-excavation of the rectangular mausoleum and the area to the north was undertaken. The walls of the tomb were cleaned and the filling excavated. It was found to be 14 feet by 10 feet with walls constructed of flint and tile, similar to the circular tomb, but with only a single buttress. About AD 1800 a large stone coffin was removed from the site and this probably came from the rectangular tomb. This coffin has now been returned to the site, having had various unlikely resting-places during the ensuing years. Two small niches were discovered inside the tomb, one being lined with tiles and both made for some specific purpose, perhaps to contain grave-goods.

On excavation, the bottom of the tomb was found to have been cut into solid chalk and it seems that the stone coffin must have rested on this. Despite the previous excavations another grave was found cut into the chalk on the north side. This grave was 4 feet long, 1 foot 3 inches wide at the east and tapered to 11 inches at the west end. The filling contained a disturbed adult skeleton and a number of smaller items. These included part of a samian platter (Form 32), a complete glass bottle (just half an inch high), pieces of lead and about 20 bronze studs. It seems that this grave may have contained another coffin (later robbed) and many interesting grave-goods, the majority of which had also been robbed. The bronze studs suggest that the grave may have contained a fine wooden casket.

South of this mausoleum was a thick layer of roof-tile and more tiles were found inside the tomb. It seems likely that it may have had a tiled roof unlike the circular mausoleum which is thought to have been earth-filled.

Work will continue on this important site for the coming months and further discoveries are expected. An "Open Week-end" has been arranged for 25th-26th May when members of the public can be shown over the site which is 4 miles south of Bromley.

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