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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Reculver --
Roman Burial Ground Located?
by Harold Gough.

The staff of the Municipal Caravan Site at Reculver have, in theory, an unrivalled opportunity to make interesting archaeological discoveries in the course of their work. Experience shows that this is not so in practice. During February this year, several hundred feet of trench the width of a spade and about two feet deep, were dug manually for electric cables serving the caravans. These were extended beyond the perimeter to run-off water from old, severed land-drains. The writer first became aware of this when he was shown two coins for identification, a copper liard of Louis XVI and an East India Co.'s 5-cash for the first decade of the 19th century. These, he was assured, were the only finds from the site.

It was decided at once to survey and record these trenches in relation to the Roman fort. They were devoid of interest except at one point, where a small pit of burnt material in the top of the clay subsoil had been neatly cut through and the contents left on the spoil-heap, unnoticed. This contained

  1. more than 100 sherds of a grey poppy-head beaker, 8¾ high, with everted rim and a single zone of roulette between two grooves, together with most of the contents, largely burnt wood and cremated bone;
  2. sherds of a similar but smaller, thinner and rather worn beaker;
  3. part of a small base with foot-ring, and
  4. a quantity of coarse sandy blue-grey cooking-pot with a rolled rim.

The sides of the pit left in section were cleared and produced more sherds of (ii) and (iv) in the ash near the lip of the pit; the filling also contained a good deal of burnt bone similar to the contents of (i). It is clear that the product of a cremation had been gathered up, some used to fill the beaker, which had then been deposited in a shallow pit and the remainder had then been packed round the beaker with other material, perhaps sweepings.

The beaker could be substantially reconstructed and by analogy with similar material from the site can be dated to the Fort-construction period, probably very early in the third century AD.

The fact that this cremation was found only 35 feet from the wall of the Caravan-site sewage-works lends colour to the elusive but persistent tradition that one or more skeletons were found when the works were constructed in the early 1950's. It suggests this may be the site of a burial-ground associated with the fort itself.

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