Folkestone Roman Villa.

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Appeal for Funds

The Appeal by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit in 2009 for funds for the preparation of its report on its major excavation on the Folkestone Roman Villa, has recently brought an offer of £1,000 from the Kent Archaeological Trust. However, another £13,000 remains to be raised and further offers are warmly welcomed.

Archaeologists have known for over 80 years that this Roman Villa has been subject to sea erosion, following its discovery and total excavation by Mr S E Winbolt in 1924. In 1989 the Kent Unit carried out the second major excavation, directed by Brian Philp, with the specific aim of determining how much of the Villa had been lost in the 60 years between (Kent Archaeological Review 99 page 206). This revealed that only about 30 feet of the cliff had gone, thus at a rate of only 6 inches a year. Careful checks annually since then have shown that no more of the Villa has been lost in the past 20 years. Even at 6 inches per annum, it would take over 200 years before the villa would be lost. Also some damage had been caused by army occupation of the site in the Second World War.

The Kent Unit planned to continue excavations on the Villa in 1990, until it was informed that the site had been filled with contaminated material. As the removal of this might present a hazard to local residents, walkers and holiday-makers the project was cancelled. The danger was that the fly-ash would blow over the neighbourhood.

The 1989 excavation also found evidence of prehistoric settlement beneath the Villa and thus confirmed the discoveries by Winbolt in 1924. Then, he had discovered several important Iron Age cremation burials beneath the Villa thus establishing the early origins of the site. In 1974 the Kent Unit found areas of greensand chipping from the site, showing that the area had been a production centre of quernstones in the late-Iron Age and early Roman periods. Later, Unit member Peter Keller, carried out extensive studies of this important industry. He reported over 60 actual quernstones and published the results widely in 1988 (Kent Archaeological Review 93 (1988, page 59). One of the quernstones is on display in the Roman Painted House at Dover.

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