Kent Archaeological Review extract

A roman Site at Northfleet --
A Preliminary Report.
by D G Thompson and Mrs V Smith.

The subject of this report is the excavation of a large Roman building(s) situated on land owned by the APCM Ltd. (NGR TQ 616 741) which was partially excavated by Mr W H Steadman, a member of the Dartford and District Antiquarian Society during the years 1909-11. The only records of this excavation are a number of poor photographs held in the Gravesend Public Library, and a published booklet based on a paper read before the members of the DDAS on the 30th September, 1911. This booklet gives a tantalizingly brief and vague account of the work carried out. It does however contain a site plan (scaled, but not orientated). A plan based on the original has been drawn, (Figure 1) and shows quite plainly that a considerable amount of further work is necessary before any conclusions as to the nature and significance of the structure can be made. In addition, the report indicates that there are other buildings in the area that have not yet been examined.

Unfortunately, this excavation ended prematurely as the grant given by the APCM for providing labour was exhausted! The decision to apply for permission to re-excavate the site by the Thameside Archaeological Group was based on two factors; the first being that a published programme of pending road works in close proximity to the site will, if not actually destroy the site, damage and hamper further excavations in the future. Secondly, this site has been for years a happy hunting ground for treasure hunters and other vandals whose attentions have, over the last few months, increased to alarming proportions. Negotiations with APCM have finally been completed. The main objection to their granting permission to excavate was due to the fact that several 33,000 volt cables were buried "somewhere" under the site. This, for some reason, seemed to bother them!

DRAWING: Figure 1. Plan of Roman Remains at Northfleet. 1912.

Figure 1. Plan of Roman Remains at Northfleet. 1912.

However we located the cables for them and eventually, after more than a year of letter writing and meetings, an agreement was finally signed which included the undertaking to provide insurance cover for 500,000, the cost of which has been off-set by a grant from the KAS to whom we are indebted. Our aims are:

  1. To clear up and make sense of the damage caused by illicit digging in the past.
  2. To grid and excavate an area west of the earlier excavation where extensive Roman building and occupation can be seen in the face of a quarry.
  3. To locate and re-examine the area of the 1911 dig.

During the first two weeks, excavation has produced large quantities of Roman pottery, roof and flue tile, painted wall plaster and tesserae. One item of interest found was a silver washed Antoninianus of Valerian II, minted post-humously in 268 AD. The obverse carries a radiate head, and the inscription DIV CAES VALERIANO. The reverse carries an altar with a flame bearing the inscription CONSECRATIO.

Due to the large response from the public in reply to our request for volunteers it will be necessary to conduct a training programme in the future. Details of this, and interim reports of the excavation will be made available for publication in this journal.

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