25/08/11

Roman Villa Dig to continue into September

The dig at the Roman villa on the East Cliff at Folkestone will now continue until the end of September, with digging daily from 9am to 4pm. As the archaeology has proved quite complex, progress has been slower than expected.

After several weeks’ preparation, work started seven days a week on July 11th at the front of the villa between the entrance porch and the right wing, an area never before excavated.  The final courtyard of around 350 AD was first exposed but, sitting on top of a layer of fallen Roman tile from the roof and entrance porch, it must have been put it place in front of an already collapsing building. In fact there is evidence from finds to suggest that the Villa went out of use towards the end of the third century and, when later reoccupied, probably by squatters, would have been a semi-derelict building used possibly for storage or the housing of animals. 

With the removal of the tiles, of which 40 rubble bags have now been collected, the courtyard of the villa proper was brought to light. Digging has continued into the Iron Age layers with possible post holes being revealed. In addition to the large quantities of tile some decorated or with animal paw prints, large numbers of roman nails and iron work have been found including several keys and tools, as well as pottery, animal bone and sea shells. Other interesting artifacts include a hare brooch, a bronze ring brooch, bone pins, a manicure set on a ring, a tiny engraved gem stone from a Roman signet ring and two pieces of a little clay statuette probably of a mother goddess sitting in a wicker chair with a baby in each arm. The discovery of both vessel and window glass indicates the high status of the villa. 

On the seaward side of the site, digging has revealed a large ditch, probably marking a boundary, which had been filled with clay to level the site, prior to the construction of the villa. The excavation of this continues.

 Visitors to the site are welcome between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm seven days a week. Volunteers are still needed to dig, wash finds or talk to visitors.

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