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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Romano-British Villa, East Malling.
by Mrs A Wacher.

During five weeks in May and June, the field east of the Grange, East Malling (NGR. TQ 703 570), was trial-trenched, prior to its consecration as a churchyard, and an area in the south-west corner was explored more fully. The west and south sides of the site were trenched by hand; the rest of the site was then gridded by a Dinkum Major machine in order to find what outlying buildings, if any, were there. Apart from the south side, however, the site yielded no archaeological material.

The south side revealed successive occupation from the 1st to the 4th century AD. Period 1 consisted of four ditches and some post-holes, associated with pottery of Belgic type; time did not permit full examination of these features, but the lack of occupation material points to an enclosure, rather than a habitation site which may well underlie the Roman building to the south.

The earliest Roman structures (Period 2) to be found were the main external north wall of a building, first located in the garden of the Grange (Arch. Cant.,lxix (1955), 208; and lxxi (1957), 228), to the west, and its verandah, bounded by one of the Belgic ditches which had been re-cut. These can be dated to the Flavian period. The main wall extended east for 33 feet. before running obliquely into the field south of the site. At one point in its length, a doorway was found.

During Period 3, which lasted until the end of the 2nd century, various alterations took place. Part of the verandah was modified, so that the doorway was now approached by what now appeared to be a small wooden porch. This was burnt, and re-built in an enlarged form resembling an outhouse, with a small timber-framed door at the west end giving on to the remainder of the verandah. The outhouse itself was subsequently burnt twice and rebuilt on the same plan, while the verandah to the west was re-floored.

Period 4 had suffered much from deep ploughing, robbing, root-disturbance and a general levelling of the area, but there was sufficient for it to be dated to the late 3rd-early 4th century. At the west end, the verandah was re-floored and the outside wall rebuilt, while the small outhouse of Period 3 appeared to have been reconstructed.

Many tesserae, painted wall-plaster and opus signinum fragments would indicate a building of some luxury, probably in the field south of the site.

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