It seems likely that the wealthy community who lived at Folkestone at the end of the Iron Age were on good terms with the Romans, who had conquered Gaul (Northern France and Belgium) in the 1st century BC. We think this because of the evidence for trade between southeast Britain and the continent, before the Roman Conquest of AD 43. When the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain in AD 43, most of his troops probably landed at Richborough near Sandwich. Archaeologists think others may also have landed in the area we know as Southampton, on the south coast.
It seems that the inhabitants of the Folkestone area adapted quickly to being part of the Roman Empire. We say this because by the 1st century AD a large villa (or country house) had been built in the Roman style, overlooking East Wear Bay. It had typical Roman ‘must haves’ – mosaics, painted walls, a bath house and under floor heating.
Three principal archaeologists have worked on this Roman villa site; first Samuel Winbolt in the 1920s, then Brian Philp in the 1980s and most recently Keith Parfitt and his team of volunteers in 2010-2011, as part of the A Town Unearthed project.
Back in 1869, 1875 and 1952, Roman remains of about 5 other buildings were found during construction works at ‘Folly Fields’, about half a mile inland from the villa site. You can find Folly Road on a current map of the area. It is possible these buildings were part of the villa estate. The villa is the most substantial evidence found so far for Roman Folkestone. During the A Town Unearthed project, archaeologists and volunteers also plan to dig several small trenches around the East
Cliff area to find out more. Some will be in people’s gardens – with permission of course!
The evidence so far suggests there are more discoveries to be made. You would expect there to be a main Roman road for example… Maybe it was lost to the sea a long time ago or it could be still be buried somewhere, waiting to be uncovered…