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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Stamped Tiles of the Classis Britannica.
by Gerald Broadribb.

Roman tiles stamped with the letters CL BR ('Classis Britannica') have been found at nine sites in Britain, namely: Richborough (1), Dover (45), Lympne (10), Folkestone (7) and Cranbrook (51) in Kent; and Pevensey (3), Bodiam (30), Bardown (26) and Beauport Park (65) in Sussex (the figure in brackets indicated the quantity). Nearly 100 CL BR tiles have also been found at Boulogne, which was once the Headquarters of the British Fleet. The purpose of the stamp was presumably to show that a tile bearing it belonged to the naval authorities, like a modern War Department stamp. There seems to have been no standard type of stamp and of those found in Britain their are at least 35 varieties, including such variants as 'Clasis Brit.', CLA B, CLS BR. The style of lettering varies from fine to extremely crude. None of the Boulogne stamps is exactly similar to any of those found in Britain; the type of stamp used seems to depend upon the whim of the maker.

Not all tiles on CL BR sites carry stamps, which may suggest that perhaps only certain tiles in a batch were marked. It is not always easy to see a stamp unless the tile is cleaned and inspected closely and 1 am sure that in the past many CL BR tiles have gone unrecorded and even unnoticed. Consider too that, anyway only a small portion of the tile carries a stamp. A 9 x 9-inch tile covers 81 square inches, but the stamp on it covers only 3 square inches.

The Kent sites have interesting possibilities. Richborough the great Claudian landing-base, has surprisingly only one CL BR tile. Dover's 45 tiles have been noted at scattered periods of time going back to 1778. Lympne with ten tiles has been excavated only twice, in 1850 and 1893. Folkestone's 7 tiles came from the villa excavated in 1924 and the Cranbrook 'hoard' from Little Farningham Farm (many of them tiles in mint condition) is specially interesting as coming from what may have been an inland supply-depot for the fleet.

The writer has published in Sussex Arch. Collections Volume 107 (1969) (pages 102-125) a full illustrated list of all CL BR tiles found in Britain and would be very pleased to hear of any other CL BR tiles which may come to light.

It is to be hoped that more pits, ditches and huts will be found in the vicinity and an early and extensive Iron Age farmstead site seems to be indicated. The presence of late-Iron Age pottery and structures on other parts of the Lower Warbank site may indicate a major settlement here through much of the Iron Age. Significantly, the massive Iron Age hill-fort at Holwood lies only half a mile away to the northwest.

The Bromley Training School, now in its third year, continues to flourish on the Lower Warbank site. More than 100 people are: involved and divided into four classes. The two new 'Beginners' classes have shown outstanding promise this year and have set a particularly high standard of work. Special thanks are due to the supervisors Miss E M Mynott, Mr D N Broadfoot, Mr G B Clewley and Mr D Garrod. A word of thanks also to the site-assistants Miss M Hughes, Mr E Connell, Mr F C Rebbeck and Mr A R Solly for their sustained efforts. Of the students outstanding work over two or three years has been done by Miss G Lewis, Mrs T Dutton, Mr D Edwards, Mr M Godfrey, Mr W F Jeffries, Mr E H Taylor and Mr R Tedbury. To all concerned my considerable thanks are offered.

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