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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Richborough-Dover Roman Road near Cane Wood.
by Keith Parfitt.
(Dover Archaeological Group.)

The following independent project was carried out by two young members of the Dover Archaeological Group.

In his book Roman Roads in Britain, I D Margary states that the course of the Roman road which ran from Dover to Richborough is doubtful for the half mile stretch which runs south from the hollow way near West Langdon Church. A footpath links the hollow way with the known course of the Roman road half a mile away but at first sight the footpath appears to be too winding to represent the line of the Roman road. Peter Shaw and I decided, therefore, to try to determine the exact course of the Roman road in this area and the following report covers work undertaken in 1972 and 1973.

Traces of flint metalling were found where the footpath runs along the south east edge of Cane Wood some distance to the east of a direct line drawn across the doubtful area. Probing was carried out along the footpath in the grass field north of the wood as it continued towards the hollow way and this revealed metalling up to a depth of 2 feet below the surface. The line of the Roman road was subsequently confirmed by digging small test holes every 20 yards along the line of the footpath in the field between Cane Wood and the top of the hollow way. In the field 186 yards north of the wood the two edges of the road were uncovered showing that it was about 17 feet across.

The road surface was also partly uncovered in five different places along the footpath skirting Cane Wood. This revealed that the road was made from medium sized round flints and gravel. A small test hole was dug through the metalling which was found to be over 1 foot thick. Mortar was found lightly mixed with the flints about 9 inches down.

There seems to be a high agger (2-3 feet high) along part of the east side of the wood and there is a large ditch that runs parallel to the road in Cane Wood itself. It seems too large for a Roman drainage ditch and may have been dug to provide earth for building a bank around the wood in fairly recent times. At this point the Roman road runs in the bottom of a valley and any Roman ditch here may have been destroyed by the later ditch.

The field south of Cane Wood is ploughland. We were unable to trace the course of the road which may have been destroyed by ploughing.

Nevertheless from the evidence obtained it seems fairly certain that the footpath does represent the line of the Roman road as suggested in the old maps (e.g. the 0S, map published in 1819). We are unable to offer any good reason for the deviation of the road from the direct line though marshy conditions may be a possibility.

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