Monday, April 30, 2012


Today I will be, hopefully, explaining Flowerbeds. Now I'm sure you all know what flowerbeds are and I'm not here to discuss planting herbaceous borders, but instead talk about the whole scale destruction of them to see what archaeology lies beneath. I am doing this through A Town Unearthed: Folkestone before 1500 (, a Heritage Lottery Fund ( funded community project that has been running for 3 years and is due to finish next Spring. For more background on how the project came into being, click here: There is so many elements to this project and I could not do them justice here, I am going to briefly talk about the archaeology below but please do have a look at their web-site to see the sorts of things that have going on. Hopefully I will be able to let you know about some of the other activities into later posts.

Folkestone and the surrounding area has a lot of archaeology. There are Bronze Age burial mounds, Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, Roman remains, Napoleonic Towers, Edwardian Promenades, and Second World War features. The focus of the project last season was a Roman Villa situated on top of East Cliff, which is eroding into the sea and tragically taking the Villa with it! This wasn't the first time the Villa had been excavated however. In the 1920s S.E. Winbolt was invited to excavate the site as Roman finds had been popping up for decades and set about uncovering the walls (see image below). The site was left open to the public, and indeed was extremely popular, until post-war austerity forced it's closure in 1956 when the site was re-covered.

Post card of the uncovered Roman Villa (image courtesy of CAT)

(There is a more detailed history at ). The site was briefly re-opened again in the 1980s but had remained untouched until last year when hoards of volunteers from in and around Folkestone descended on the site and it saw the light of day once more! Some fabulous finds were uncovered including coins, a hare brooch (below), stamped roof tiles, decorated Samian Ware, and a decorated gemstone from a ring. Evidence for Iron Age activity showed up beneath the Villa and there is a strong case for going back to fully research the site before it is lost to the sea forever.

 Part of the uncovered Villa walls and the Hare Brooch;
the edge of the cliff is just behind that fencing 
(photos courtesy of CAT)
This year heralds a new season with a slightly different approach to the archaeology side. We will not be revisiting the Villa site again but will be conducting smaller Keyholes (also known as Test Pits) to establish the extent of the Roman and Iron Age site. We are hoping to drop some keyholes into back gardens (hence flowerbeds) in the east of Folkestone, and are currently trying to recruit some eager garden owners to sign up their lawns for the purpose. Watch this space!

Although the Villa site has been recovered there is currently an exhibition on in Folkestone Library and Museum called Earth and Vision - Images of the Archaeology and Landscape of Folkestone 1538-2012 ( which is curated by  Bryan Hawkins of Canterbury Christ Church University, and explores the boundaries between archaeology and art. It's the first of a series of exhibitions on this project so if you have the chance, go and have a look. be continued....

Friday, April 27, 2012


OK, so maybe I should have gone in order and started with Beads but I've been working on the Boat side of things today so decided to mix things up a little.
Boat progress on 10th April 2012. Image courtesy of Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Yes that's me in the purple top.
The Boat, as mentioned in the previous post, is the half scale reconstruction of the Dover Boat currently  residing in Dover Museum ( The original was found in 1992 (20 years this September) and has been dated to around 1550BC. It is a sewn boat which means some of the planks were sewn together using yew withies, amongst other things, to keep it together. The image above just shows the base and there will be more planks added to make it taller (should be about 1 meter in height) otherwise the swell would sink it if you put it on the sea. As already mentioned the project 'Boat 1550BC' is run in conjunction with partners in Europe and is funded, in part, by the EU with other local organisations (such as the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust ( and Kent Archaeological Society ( The boat is being constructed in Dover (on the lawn behind the library if you are local; open days are Wednesday and Saturday) and will be launched on the seafront on 12th May; pictures (and maybe even a video) to follow. At the end of May the boat will be going to Boulogne Sur Mer, France, for a 6 month exhibition and then on to Velzeke, Belgium, for another 6 months before returning to Dover where it will hopefully have a permanent home.

Selection of replica bronze tools used on the boat. (Image CAT)

The reconstruction is using the traditional tools and techniques employed on the original. The wood is a combination of English and French Oak. Time and budget constraints have meant that some jobs (like the steaming of the wood [this is an ancient method of bending wood. You cover the bit you want to bend and heat it up with steam until the natural glue in the wood softens enough to move; how long depends on the size and thickness of the wood but with this boat it's been about 3-4 hours per plank.You then have 3-5 minutes to manhandle it into position before the glue starts to re-set. Once happy you leave it overnight to completely cool. Job done!]) have had a modern twist to them, but essentially the boat has been crafted with replica bronze tools (as you can see in the image to the above left) and using technology that would have been available at the time. The purpose of this project was to answer some questions about the construction and how it performs in the water, especially with regards to the sewing of the planks together (I will put pictures up when they start doing this because it is quite hard to explain). There is a crack team made up of archaeologists, historical wood specialists, and boat builders all working hard to get this completed and with much debate over it!  

So what is my role in this project? Well I've been going up on some of the open days to help give talks to the public. That in itself has been a bit of a learning curve as, if you haven't already guessed, I am a bit of a landlubber and come from a landlocked county (Herefordshire), and what I know about boats could be written on the head of a pin. But I am learning, and learning fast because one of my other duties is to organise the launch into Dover Harbour. Apparently it's not as simple as 'just chucking it in the water' and all sorts of permissions, risk assessments, insurance, and safety measures have to be established before hand. And the astute amongst you will notice the launch date is 2 weeks tomorrow! It'll be fine though. Everything is coming together nicely and I am learning the all important skill of delegating. The boat builders have been kind enough to let me help in some small ways but as yet they haven't let me have a go at wielding the axes(!). They have let me clean the moss (picking all the grubs and twigs out of the moss which is used to pack the bottom planks of the boat and keep it water tight) and paint linseed oil on the ends (to stop it drying out and cracking) so hopefully that will continue and I can contribute more to this fantastic boat.

I hope this makes sense. As the posts go on there will be more about this project but for now I'll leave you to digest this. If you want more information the leave a comment or follow the links. be continued....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hello and welcome!


Welcome to my brand spanking new blog! This is the first time I've ever really blogged so bear with and we'll see how we go.

My name is Annie and I am the new Council for British Archaeology's Community Archaeologist Training Placement at Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Or CBA's CATP at CAT if you're a fan of acronyms. I will attempt to put a link on this page somewhere so you can read more about the CBA and the placement scheme, or even apply if you like the sound of it. I've been at my post since 2nd April, so nearly a month, and boy what an month it's been!

As the days go by I will bring you up to speed on what's occurring but for now I will give you a brief overview to ease you in gently. I'll include some handy links so you can get some more information and I don't have to whitter on so much. So here's a 'quick' summary of the things I've been up to and the projects I'm working on:
  • I went to the IFA (Institute of Field Archaeologists) conference in Oxford. I met some of the other placements (there are 10 in total all over the country) and attended an afternoon session on Community Archaeology, which was very interesting and gave me some ideas for future projects.    
  • I've spent quite a lot of time at Dover on the Boat 1550BC project.( This is a project which has been run in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Lille 3, Ghent University, INRAP (the French national archaeology service), the Conseil general du Pas-de-Calais, the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer and the British Museum. The project aims to construct a half scale replica of the Bronze Age Dover Boat ( found during construction of an underpass in the town. Unfortunately they could only lift half of it and it now resides in Dover Museum, the other half is still under the underpass. I've been going down to help on open days (every Wednesday and Saturday on the museum lawn behind the library) and very occasionally the boat builders let me do some small jobs. So for I've painted the boat with linseed oil and picked moss clean (more on that another time). The other thing I've been doing is organising the launch; more on that later.
  • A Town Unearthed: Folkestone before 1500 ( is the other project I've been working on. This project is the 3rd year and will finish next Spring. Previous seasons have included an community led excavation on a Roman Villa but this year I get to be in charge of Keyhole excavations in people's back gardens. The website has some fantastic pictures of last years findings and the background to the project.
  • CSI: Sittingbourne ( - Conservation, Science, Investigation - is a fantastic project based in Sittingbourne. Tesco have very kindly lent them 2 shops that would have otherwise been empty to carry out conservation work on the finds from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery found underneath what is now the 'Jenny Wren' Marston pub. Some really great things came from this site (pictures to follow) including hundreds of beads made of glass, amber and amethyst. There's an exhibition there too so if you're around go take a look!
  • The Viking's Invaded Canterbury and we opened up the finds department at the Trust to display some of our finds from around that period. Unfortunately Viking finds are rare in Canterbury but we used some from the Sittingbourne excavation and people seemed impressed enough with them. The event was organised by Canterbury Heritage Museum ( and consisted of a trail around the town visiting re-enactors in key locations around the city.
...and that's not everything!

So I'm being kept busy and with more projects in the pipeline it looks like it's set to continue for the placement! I will leave you to digest all this for now but will be back very soon. be continued....