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Archaeologists unearth Aylesham's Roman military past

Aylesham archaeology finds

Two skeletons dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age have been unearthed by archaeologists working on the Aylesham Garden Village site, ahead of new homes being built.  They are now being carefully examined at the University of Kent to date them precisely and understand why they were buried there.

These are among the latest items to have been found on the development site with others, smaller items of pottery and glass, dating from the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago.

Faversham based Swale & Thames Archaeology (SWAT) has been carrying out the work for developers Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes throughout the time they have been building in Aylesham – and there is more to do in the years ahead.

SWAT’s Dr Paul Wilkinson said: “It will be some time before we know much more about the skeletons and their graves. However, the other items we have found have helped to fill in some big gaps in our knowledge of post-invasion Roman life.

“We are quite certain we have discovered what was a military supply depot on the Aylesham site. This would have been set up a year or two after the Romans invaded Britain and we believe would have been manned by soldiers of a Roman legion.  

“Not all of them would have been fighting men but specialists in a range of support roles – similar to the British army of the Victorian era – and would have been posted around an area to concentrate on infrastructure tasks.

“At the centre of the Aylesham site were three kilns for firing pottery which were bordered by trenches and ditches. Local clay would have been used to make the army’s pots, plates and urns. We have found glass items from Gaul, now France and other pottery from Germany in Aylesham as well.

“We have discovered some of the urns found in Aylesham were made in the Medway area and these, with local made items found, suggest the Romans were mass producing everyday items quickly and efficiently.

“The site sits on high ground offering sweeping views of the countryside in a triangle with Canterbury and the Roman ports of Richborough and Dover. It isn’t far from the strategically important Roman Watling Street connecting Dover and Richborough to Canterbury and beyond to Roman London.”

Future plans for the archaeological team centre around digging on a site to the east of Aylesham railway station, a short distance away from the development.

It is hoped a selection of the Aylesham finds can be eventually put on display.

Posted on 11 February 2020


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