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Keston Roman Tombs.
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. (See the article about the discovery of Tomb 3 in the Spring 1968 issue of the Kent Archaeological Review.)
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.
Excavation reports of both the mausolea and villa have been published by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit.
Time-line:See the Timeline for the Keston Roman Villa complex.
Open Day at the Keston Roman Tombs, September 2012.
Open Day at the Keston Roman Tombs, September 2014.