Kent Archaeological Review extract

Roman-British Cemetary Discovered at Northbourne.
by Brian Philp and John Gaunt.

The 2nd October, 1974 proved to be yet another milestone in the story of rescue archaeology in Kent. It was then that a totally unknown, unsuspected Romano- British cemetery was found at Court Field by the writers watching a KCC roadwidening scheme in the parish of Northbourne, near Deal. Early warning that a pit had been revealed was given by Mr A Peel of Finglesham through Mr K Reedie, the new curator of Canterbury Musuem. This encouraged a detailed watch on the area and a few hours later the bulldozer hit the first burial about 50 metres to the south. Here was the classic 'instant rescue' situation (sometimes described by the uninformed as useless salvage) where a major discovery emerged during contractural work and where archaeological work began within one minute of the actual discovery. The site was completed in ten days under the direction of the writers without inconvenience to the scheme and about 95% of the total evidence was recovered.

A detailed report is now under preparation for publication, but the cemetery may be provisionally dated to the third century AD. It included at least 15 burials, not in a uniform pattern, but including both cremations and inhumations. Traces of several wooden coffins were found and also related grave-goods, which are now being studied. One of the graves was nearly 3 metres deep and some of the skeletal remains were in good condition. The cemetery must reflect a nearby occupation-site. which was about one mile from the Dover-Richborough Roman road.

The writers wish to thank Lord and Lady Northbourne, the Hon. Christopher James and Mr Powell, the farm manager for their helpful interest and support; Mr Peel and Mr Reedie for their ready co-operation; the KCC foreman Mr David Lee for his ready response and Mrs W Williams, Miss E Mynott, Messrs J Bray, K Parfitt, B Stocker, A Emms, K Nicol and several others for their help with the excavation under very bad conditions.

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