Kent Archaeological Review extract

Conference Report --
Preserving Roman Sites in Britain.
by Edna Mynott.

The CKA annual conference at Canterbury in November proved to be yet another great success and the hall was again packed to hear an outstanding programme on the preservation of major Roman sites.

The first speaker was Margaret Rule who spoke on her work at Fishbourne, Sussex. She and her husband discovered this famous site after a water-main trench hit Roman masonry in the village of Fishbourne, close to Chichester, in 1960. Excavations in the succeeding years revealed the plan of a fantastic Roman palace, mainly of first century date and containing numerous mosaic floors. The site was bought by the late I D Margary in 1964 (at building land value) and a single-storey cover building put up in 1966. The site, together with a small museum and part of the garden laid out in Roman style, was opened to the public in 1968 by the Sussex Archaeological Trust.

The next speaker was Tony Rook from Hertfordshire a onetime (a wet Wednesday in 1952) digger at the Lullingstone Roman villa and the son of the late Mr and Mrs Rook, also of Lullingstone fame. He related his discoveries in Hertfordshire in the usual strictly factual, modest and serious manner which are firm features of his lectures. His main discovery, part of a small plugless Roman bath, was quickly swamped by the Al (M) roadworks mainly at the suggestion of a nameless Midland university Don. However, with the aid of local crocodiles, an auger and three thousand long dead Romans every 10 square feet he was able to ensure that his site was preserved in a steel vault beneath the new motorway and given good public access.

Finally, Brian Philp described the discovery, excavation and preservation of the Roman Painted House at Dover with its very fine wall paintings. His lecture highlighted the importance of Dover as the Gateway of Roman Britain, with its prime masonry buildings and three centuries of Roman military occupation which mark it as the most important Roman site in either Kent, Surrey or Sussex. The scheme was completed in May when it was opened to the public and thousands of visitors from Kent and overseas (including the Russian Ambassador) made special trips to the site. Already bookings are being made for free guided tours (to parties with prior booking) for 1978.

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