Iron Age hill fort remains found in Margate Caves area

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Archaeologists excavating an area in Margate, a seaside town in the district of Thanet in Kent, England, have discovered the remains of an Iron Age hill fort. The find came as part of an archaeological dig at the Margate Caves site.

Iron Age hill fort remains found in Margate Caves area
Remains of an Iron Age hill fort have been uncovered during excavation work to restore a series of caves in Kent.
Researchers discovered a defensive ditch during routine excavation as part of the redevelopment
[Credit: Dr Paul Wilkinson/SWAT Archaeology]

Last year, the Margate Caves Community Education Trust announced it successfully bid for more than £420,000 from the Big Lottery Fund last year. It is hoped that the centre will reopen in 2019.

The ancient fort remains were found in the area of the proposed ticket office of the centre.

Dr Paul Wilkinson, of SWAT Archaeology, said: “Margate Caves, also known as Vortigern’s Cavern, are a set of galleries radiating out from a rectangular shaft. The chalk mine was probably worked between the late 17th and early 18th centuries.”

Iron Age hill fort remains found in Margate Caves area
The fortification is thought to be part of a wider encampment, believed to have been a defensive position since
pre-history through to the Napoleonic era [Credit: Dr Paul Wilkinson/SWAT Archaeology]

“In 1798 the caves were found by a gardener. The houseowner, Forster, had the caves opened and employed a local artist, Brazier, to create carvings and paint scenes on the walls. The caves were used for storage, a wine cellar and as a grotto. A number of modifications were made to the caves during this period, with new features and passages being cut.”

From 1835 until 1863 the caves went unused.

“They were then rented by a shopkeeper, John Norwood, who opened them to the public under the name of Vortigern’s Cavern.” Dr Wilkinson added.

“This enterprise was successful for some time but eventually closed, parts of the system being backfilled at this time. The caves were next opened in 1907 by Dr Prior, the vicar, who cleared and cut new shafts, eventually opening the caves to the public again after 1910.”

“A new entrance was cut in 1914 for use of the caves as an air raid shelter. The caves reopened to the public after the war until 1938 when they were closed. The vicarage above the caves was destroyed in June 1941 and afterwards the entrance to the caves was bricked up. In 1958 James Geary Gardner again reopened the caves. They were again closed in 2004.”

Author: Katie Davis | Source: Kent Online [February 20, 2018]

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