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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Emergency Excavations at Dover.
by Brian Philp.

An extensive ten-week programme of rescue-research excavation was successfully completed in September. The work, on behalf of the Ministry of Public Building and Works and with the full support of the Council for Kentish Archaeology emergency scheme, was supported by 12 Kent groups. With the financial backing of the Ministry, Dover Corporation, CKA, Kent County Council and Mare Fitch Fund the project proved to be, with one exception, a splendid exercise in constructive and ready co-operation.

The work programmed to overlap the major trunk-road scheme in the York Street area, was eventually completed before the road construction began. Excavations were carried out simultaneously on four large sites straddling the line of the new road, where the deep central section of the road would cause total destruction of archaeological deposits. Within limits set by remaining buildings it was possible to undertake almost total excavation.

The results of the non-stop 70 day excavation proved spectacular and more than justified the cost and effort. Clear evidence of Neolithic or Bronze Age settlement was found on two sites. Sealing this were deep and extensive deposits of Roman date which extended over the entire area under examination. These included many substantial buildings, some rebuilt; flanking roads remetalled several times and provided with drains and piped-water; defensive ditches, walls and bastions and large quantities of coins and domestic rubbish. On one site the late-Roman levels were capped by traces of extensive Saxon buildings which had been destroyed by fire. There were in turn scaled by buildings of medieval date.

The results of the work are now being assessed and a detailed interim report will appear in the next issue (Number 23) of the Kent Archaeological Review, due out in February. In the meantime a special word of thanks to the many supervisors and archaeologists drawn from the CIB and associated groups whose supreme efforts on a deep and complex site yielded such excellent results. Also to our new friends of the New Dover Group and to the officers of the CKA for arranging and manning the exhibition during the open week-end. More than 2,000 people crowded into the site during the opening and special guests included the Mayor of Dover, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Norman Cook and David Kelly.

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