Thursday, September 13, 2012

Did the Romans settle Herne Bay?

HERNE Bay’s Victorian history is well-documented – but the town’s roots go back much further, according to local historian Geoff Wimble.

Mr Wimble, who has recovered various Roman artefacts including brooches whilst out metal detecting, points to archaeological evidence to buttress his claim.

​NOT THE ONLY ROMANS: Reculver wasn’t the only place in the area where the Romans were living, according to Geoff Wimble

He says there are clear signs that Herne Bay, and not just Reculver, was home to a Roman presence which has come to light in several archeological digs.

A 2008 report by Archaeology South East’s Simon Stevens, after an excavation in the grounds of Talmead House, Mill Lane, appears to support Mr Wimble’s claims.

Mr Stevens wrote: “The site is located in an area of Kent rich in known archaeological remains. A number of archaeological investigations have been undertaken in the general area in recent years.

“A multi-phase site has been excavated to the west of the current site. Remains dating from the late Bronze Age / early Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods were encountered.

“The results of further evaluation work suggest that this site is large in extent and straddles the current alignment of the A299.

“Another evaluation uncovered evidence of Iron Age and medieval activity to the west, whilst archaeological investigations to the east of the current site have also uncovered evidence of prehistoric and medieval activity at Willow and at Bogshole Lane, Broomfield.”

It is the evidence of a Roman presence in the area that particularly interests Mr Wimble.

He said: “It may not have been gladiators marching about in their shiny helmets roaring at each other, but there were Roman inhabitants in the area.

“Some argue they were Cantiaci or Romano-British. I’m inclined to think not, and there is evidence of very regimented field systems and Roman cremation burials.”

A Roman cremation burial dating to the 1st century AD was found during the excavation of the ground of Talmead House, with archaeologists dubbing the site of “undoubted significance”.

Part of a bowl was also discovered alongside the burial.

Mr Stevens wrote: “The ivy leaf design along the rim may be identified with Bacchus, the god of feasting and wine, and was seen as symbolic of immortality in the Greco-Roman world. It therefore seems likely that this sherd was deliberately placed.”

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