Kent Archaeological Review extract

Wood from Darenth Roman Villa.
by Brian Philp.

In 1969 two very large rectangular wooden beams were found buried in a deep pit under the Period V cross-wall of the Darenth Roman Villa (Excavations in West Kent 1960-70 (1973) page 131). These had been preserved by the water-logged conditions. The largest beam was left 'in situ', but the smaller one was lifted and with difficulty eventually sent for study through the helpful interest of Mrs. Valerie Fenwick.

The beam has since been examined and Dr J Fletcher has kindly supplied the following note.

"The sample sent for examination is oak. Ruth Jones has commented that it behaves as Bog-Oak, that is the semi-dry wood is hard and therefore can be cut with a sharp tool. We were able to use a goudge chisel along a radius from the pith and also to show the rings clearly by cutting with a knife along one edge.

There are 61 rings of average width 3 millimetres, that is it was a fast-grown tree. There is no sapwood. Its quality and rectangular section remind me of the Roman timbers from the London Customs House Site and one from the Roman gatehouse tower at Gloucester.

There is of course plenty of material for a Carbon 14 but only a slight hope that it could ever be dated by dendrochronology."

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