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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Anglo-Saxon Cemetery.
by Cecil Hogarth.

In a three-season rescue excavation completed in September, 1971, at St Peters, Thanet (NGR TR 375 693) Chatham House Grammar School Archaeological Society excavated a cemetery of 388 burials of from 6th to 8th centuries AD in date. The emergency was occasioned by the expansion of a Council rubbish tip, in the course of which a 4-acre extension was deepened by 10 to 20 feet to create greater tipping capacity. Excavation, for Broadstairs and St Peters UDC, was sponsored by the Department of the Environment, and supervised by the writer in the capacity of head of the School's Department of Archaeology. The site team consisted almost entirely of members of the school, their ages ranging from 12 to 17 years. Advice, assistance and encouragement were given lavishly by Mrs Sonia Hawkes, MA, FSA, Mr Frank Jenkins, MA, FSA, Mr Stuart Rigold, MA, FSA, Miss Louise Millard, BA, and the Hon. Mrs Mary James. Enthusiastic co-operation at all stages was given by both the local Council's officers and the site contractors, Bretts Ready Mixed Concrete Co. Ltd.

The results from a cemetery of this size, excavated and recorded according to the best modern practice, are, of course, not without significance in a period beset in the past by the unscientific examination of many of the most important grave-fields in Kent. Happily, the grave groups are not exceptionally wealthy, and will provide a useful check on typical groups from the 18th and 19th century excavations. Skeletal material is more than adequate in quantity and condition to provide valid statistical samples and considerable palaeopathological evidence towards a more reliable assessment of the general health, longevity, disease incidence and diet of the period.

Undoubtedly, however, the most exciting results so far from this site are the large and well associated series of imported Frankish ceramic, and the wide variety of structural modifications noted as elements of the cutting and ritual preparation of graves. The number of grass-tempered pots was smaller, but their associations are interesting. Reports are currently being prepared on various categories of the finds, and any discussion must, of course, await the findings of the specialists engaged on them; but it is at least possible that the evaluation of the grave-groups of this cemetery may help considerably towards a much more precise dating within the 7th century. A preliminary description of the grave structures has now been prepared, and will be published in an appropriate periodical.

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