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Kent Archaeological Review extract

News from the Groups.
by Various Contributors.



The main project for the Autumn months has been the continued rescue-excavation in the heart of Dover where the vast extent of the discoveries caused work to continue until December. The major discovery was that of a fine Roman military bathhouse situated outside the Classis Britannica fort and close to the Painted House. The walls still stood to an average height of about 2 metres and the stokehole wall survived to a height of more than 4 metres, the top of it being only about half a metre below the present tarmac. The majority of the rooms were heated and some contained plunge baths of various shapes. Much of the internal structure of the bath-building survived in remarkable detail and the structure must rate as one of the finest yet surviving in the whole of Roman Britain.

The forthcoming town-centre development was to have destroyed most of the site and also most of the bath-building. However, the plans have now been radically altered specifically to avoid this destruction and thus many of the archaeological structures will now survive. Much of the credit for this enlightened decision must go to Ian Gill, Town Clerk of Dover; John Lansdown, the architect and Maybrook Properties Ltd. It is hoped that this sort of co-operation will one day become the norm on archaeological sites over the rest of Britain.

In addition to the full-time team, large numbers of volunteers have assisted with the work at Dover and on other Kentish sites. All are thanked for their splendid support and special mention must be made of Mrs J Nelson, Miss Jean Taylor and Messrs. Mark Errington, Peter Couldrey, Nigel Gore, John Gaunt, Alan Gidlow, Wesley Harcourt, Ben Stocker, Edmond Tullett and Jim Williams for their efforts over long periods.

Surveys of building sites and service-trenches are carried out over the whole County as conditions (and petrol) permit and specific rescue-excavations have been carried out at Dartford, Canterbury, Folkestone and Thanet in conjunction with responsible local archaeologists.

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In addition to the programme of excavations at Keston (KAR Number 34, page 100), the Group completed two main enterprises in the Autumn. The first was the completion of the West Kent Report, dealing with 30 sites in the Bromley area and in the Darent Valley. This enormous task has taken members of the Group at least five years to prepare and involved almost as much work as the various excavations described. The Report was published by the CIB Rescue Unit on 12th November on behalf of the Group and with a substantial grant from the Government. The event was commemorated by a visit to the Group's centre at Bromley, by the Mayor and Mayoress of Bromley, Councillor and Mrs F Packer who were presented with a copy of the Report. The Mayor and Mayoress spent two hours watching work in progress in the Centre and they also saw many of the finds found in the Borough of Bromley over the past 14 years.

The second event was a grand 'Open Day' at Holwood Park, Keston with the kind permission of Seismograph Services Ltd. About 1,300 visitors drove into the site and were given guided tours of the Iron Age hillfort, the medieval tile-kiln (KAR Number 33, page 79) and the front of Holwood House. It took 40 members of the Group to carry out the operation either as lecturers, guides, car-park attendants or traffic wardens. The day proved a lively and happy event and large numbers of the Kent Archaeological Review were sold and donations collected. Everyone concerned is warmly thanked for their help and support.

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