Skip to Content.

Kent Archaeological Review extract

Field Survey at Hartlip Roman Villa.
by Jim Williams.

From high ground at Upchurch, NGR TQ 8395 6665, the view southwards takes in the area where the Hartlip Roman villa complex lies, NGR TQ 8285 6397. The field that it occupies, Lower Dane field, is at this present time a cherry orchard also used for grazing, while the adjacent field to the west is arable and it is in this field that two large, white soil marks can be seen from Upchurch when it is ploughed. One is circular in shape about 200m south of the villa site and the other is long and narrow running North-East to South-West across the field about 40 metres from the west boundary of Lower Dane field at its north end and about 80-90 metres at the south end.

A study of the plan of the villa complex published by C Roach Smith (Collectanea Antiqua and Victoria County History) gives no indication as to what these soil marks might be, so a survey of the field was carried out by the Upchurch Archaeological Research Group in the spring of 1973 just prior to it being sown with corn. Permission to do so was readily given by Mr Fermor of Pond Farm, Newington, the manager of Newington Fruit Co. who are the landowners.

The long narrow soil mark proved to be on the crest of a ridge running approxi- mately across the centre of the field. The whole length of the feature was closely examined and apart from a few fragments of china and a clay pipe stem, nothing was found to suggest that it was a structure of any kind. The conclusion was made that an outcrop chalk which formed the ridge was being ploughed off and spread out during cultivation. The same conclusion was made for the other feature further south, also on rising ground. However, the survey also revealed what is probably the site of one of the buildings of the complex. About 85 metres from the south boundary of Lower Dane field, on the west side, a concentration of roof and flue tile fragments were found.

By juggling the Roach Smith plan, for it only shows a small length of the South boundary and no other to help with exact location, it would seem that the excavation of his building P stopped short at the west boundary of Lower Dane field and this is about where the concentration of material found occurs. Of the other buildings nothing but the spoil heaps, now dotted with hedgerow trees, of the 1848 excavation on the main building L, M can be seen.

Close Window
Accessed this page via search engine or bookmark? Full K A R Index here.