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Kent Archaeological Review extract

by W S Penn.

Work is still being concentrated on the unusual building inside the temple area, the exact function of which has yet to be determined. It is certain, however, that the building had a religious function.

In the last report, the presence of a tiled base was mentioned, and this will certainly have supported a statue or altar. Immediately in front of the base was discovered the outline of a pit, which looked as if it could be votive. This certainly proved to be the case. First, there were two burials in the pit, one on either side of the base, one being a bird and the other a mammal, the former associated with a heavy bronze ring. Second, the pit contained 25 coins, most of them silver in mint condition, their dates ranging from the late-2nd to the late-3rd century. It seems clear that this pit had been dug in the most important and convenient part of the structure where the votaries would make their offerings.

It has now been established that the building is positioned centrally on the axis between Temples I and II, and that it may have been erected soon after Temple II in the first half of the third century. There is evidence that it supplanted an earlier and simpler structure on the same site. The position of the structure is some indication that it may be a monumental gateway with probable triumphal arch affinities. The monumental aspect is indicated by the massive walls, which must have given a high structure with a single arch between, rather like the Arch of Titus in Rome. The triumphal arch affinities are given by parts of a Corinthian pilaster found in the rubble at the top of the pit mentioned above. Pilasters such as this could well have flanked the arch. Another interesting hypothesis, supporting the gateway idea, is the possibility of finding votive coins in the path which preceded the area of the gateway. A similar path to the temple at Frilford, Berks., contained 78 coins, which were thought to be votive (Oxoniensia, iv. 27). In support of the theory, apart from the 25 coins in the pit, a further 13 have been found under the wellmade floors surrounding it, and there is still much to be excavated.

The structure has now been found to be approximately 22 feet square with two central frontal steps. The height of the "archway" floor above the latest Roman level is 2 feet. Thus, the evidence so far indicates a gateway rather than a temple, but there is still much work to be done.

Elsewhere, north of the Watling Street, during drainage trench digging operations, another large V-shaped ditch of first-century AD date has been observed.

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