Friends of the CKA: Visit to Keston.

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Friends' Visit to Keston

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Friends of the CKA.

Open Day visit to Keston.

Although the weather forcast had been for 'sunshine and showers', the rain held off long enough for some 20 Friends of the CKA to visit the Keston Windmill and the Keston Roman Tombs on Saturday, June 19th 2004.

After meeting at the Keston Village Hall, the party set off to look at the

Keston Wind­mill

, Kent's oldest surviving windmill, dating from 1716.
PHOTO: Keston Windmill.

The mill is a 3-story black weatherboard wooden structure resting on a round brick base and built on high ground, over 450 feet above sea level.

PHOTO: Wooden interior of the windmill showing central post.

It is a 'post mill' type, with the structure tied to a central massive wooden post that allowed it to be turned as the direction of the wind changed.

The mill (although not the sails) has been refurbished on a number of occasions.

In small parties, the Friends were able to explore the inside of the mill and examine this very large wooden structure as Brian Philp, the Chairman of the CKA, gave a talk on how the mill had functioned.

From there, the group moved on to the

Keston Roman Tombs.

PHOTO: The Keston Roman Mausoleum, showing Tombs 1 and 2, and a Roman coffin.
PHOTO: Edna describing the excavation of the mausoleum.

The tombs are the remains of Roman mausolea dating from the 3rd century AD and formed part of a larger extensive Roman cemetery relating to the close-by Roman Villa (not accessible).

The tombs were first discovered in the 19th Century but extensive excavations were carried out by the Bromley and West Kent Archaeological Group and the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit between 1967 and 1992.

There are three tombs:

  • Tomb 1 -- a main, circular one with six radiating buttresses,
  • Tomb 2 -- a smaller rectangular structure,
  • Tomb 3 -- a much smaller tomb, utilising two of the buttresses of Tomb 1 in its construction.

The main mausoleum (Tomb 1) is thought to have been 16 to 20 feet high and, judging by fragments of recovered plaster (opus signinum), painted a bright red on the outside.

Also on display is a Roman stone coffin, originally discovered in about 1800 in Tomb 2 and said to have been removed from the site and used as a horse-trough, and then as a flower box. It has been smashed to pieces on at least one occasion since its discovery (the last time by a German bomb in 1942!). It was reconstructed from the remaining fragments in about 1950 and finally moved back to the cemetery in 1967.

 
PHOTO: Main mausoleum structures.
PHOTO: Roman coffin.

With darkening skies, it was then time for the Friends to set off home after this very enjoyable afternoon excursion.

Excavation reports of both the mausolea and villa have been published by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit.
See the Timeline of the Keston Roman Villa complex.

The Windmill and the Tombs are within private grounds, but can be visited on special open days.

The next Keston Roman Tombs Open Day (for the general public) will be held in September 2007. (More details when we have them.)

PHOTO: view of the Keston Roman Tombs on Open Day, 2001.
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