Day Thirteen at the Roman site on the Nailbourne

Steve writes: We are coming to the end of our investigation of the site, at least for this season. The University of Kent students have contributed enormously through their sustained efforts of earth moving and discovery. Dr Lacey Wallace and Dr Alex Mullen now have some answers to the questions they had about the site arising from the survey work in previous years. There certainly was a villa by the Nailbourne, proven by these excavations! The dating evidence from pottery and the seven coins recovered points to occupation in the Late Roman era.

The two pilae located in the ‘extension’ to the main villa building.

Work in the last few days at Trench B has defined the wall foundations much more clearly. At Trench A the discovery of the improvised late Roman drain points to the rooms we have examined as being part of a baths complex on a wing of the villa. The apse may have been the position for a small cold bath in a raised tank of lead. The drain helpfully contained part of a finely made twisted-wire bracelet of later Roman affinity, but was otherwise ‘clean’. The deep pit close-by seemed from first impressions to be a well, and on excavation the likelihood has been sustained. This will have served the baths. The well could not be fully excavated this season but we got down to some interesting fill deposits.

The apsidal wall and surviving opus signinum floor.

The preservation of the building remains and artefacts provides much information about robbing of the site in times past for reusable materials and truncation. The latter may have included levelling related to the historic cricket pitch. In sum this means that we are dealing with the footprint and traces of what would once have been highly impressive elite buildings. Residents employed elaborate pottery and glass in ‘wining and dining’, enjoying some of the pleasures of life in Roman times alongside their neighbours in the Roman city of Canterbury.

Hana writes: The last day of the dig has arrived and after two weeks of fantastic weather it has decided to rain. Both trenches are being back-filled and re-turfed. Fences are being taken down and moved back to the other side of the field as the collection truck is too big to enter the field. The large volume of CBM (Ceramic Building Material, in other words Roman roof tiles, floor tiles, box flue tiles and bricks) we have uncovered is being bagged up in the pavilion by Kate, Paul and Monica.

A context of archaeologists descend on Trench A.

Being the first time this site has been excavated, we were unsure of what we would find bar the foundations suggested by geophys. However, we have been extremely lucky, with finds ranging from sherds of Roman glass, graffitied ceramic, a huge boar tusk, a wire bracelet and the dog paw-print on a tile found in Trench A. Over the course of the dig we have developed a great group dynamic which has kept us going through the long days and afternoon heat.

The end of dig rainbow brightens a very wet day.