Archaeologists rediscover site of lost Roman villa

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Archaeologists have rediscovered the site of a Roman villa that had been lost for 140 years. The bath house of a villa on the banks of the River Medway at Teston was first uncovered by Arthur Fremlin in hop gardens near Tonbridge Road in 1872. But after some excavations, the site was covered over and its exact location was soon forgotten.

Archaeologists rediscover site of lost Roman villa
Archaeologists at the site of a Roman villa in Teston, Maidstone [Credit: Kent Online]

In October 1991, Southern Water found Roman remains while laying a new sewer in the area, which prompted an investigation by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. It found a few wall remnants, but little else. 

Later, the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group investigated the site, but again it could not pinpoint the 19th century discovery of the bath house or the villa itself. Last year, a geophysical survey identified possible masonry walls on land below the 1991 investigation site.

Members of the Kent Archaeological Field School have since dug tests pits and rediscovered the villa. Dr Paul Wilkinson, who led a dig, said: “We found a 39m wall with substantial towers or pavilions at each end, and there were rooms with hypocaust (under-floor hot-air) heating.”

The team uncovered marble mosaic fragments, painted plaster and window glass, brooches and other items. They also found where the 1872 dig had taken place, a little to the north west of the main villa. The villa dates from the 1st century AD and seems to have been developed over 400 years.

Author: Alan Smith | Source: Kent Online [June 03, 2013]

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