Category Archives: Sarre

VM_365 Day 260 Cropmark of Medieval Post-Mill at Sarre

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Today’s image for Day 260 of the VM_365 project shows cropmarks  at Sarre recorded during an aerial reconnaissance flight by the Trust for Thanet Archaeology in 1990.

The cropmarks, located to the east of the existing Sarre Mill, show an Anglo Saxon cemetery in the north east quadrant of the picture and a medieval post-mill foundation showing as a ring ditch with a cross in the centre in the south west quadrant.

Evaluation trenching by the Trust in 1990 sampled a number of the Anglo Saxon graves which have previously featured in VM_365 posts and also sampled the cropmark of the post-mill.

The Sarre post-mill is of similar form to the post-mill that was excavated at St Peters, Broadstairs. The ring ditch and cross trench at Sarre contained pottery in 13th and 14th century fabrics indicating that a windmill has stood at Sarre from at least the 13th century.

VM_365 Day 238 Grave 275, Sarre Anglo Saxon cemetery

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Today’s VM_365 image shows the fully exposed skeleton within Grave 275 of the Sarre Anglo Saxon cemetery (left) and the sword which lay above it under excavation (right).

As you can see from the photo on the right, the grave was very shallow, the surrounding soil and chalk having been eroded over the years and the skeleton and the sword were in danger of being completely destroyed by ploughing. The skeleton of the adult male aged 25-30 was already in a poor condition with part of the skull destroyed by the recent passage of the plough and only the long bones of legs remained intact, although very fragmentary.

The sword had been placed over the skeleton on the lid of the coffin with the hilt pointing toward the head and the sword tip toward the feet. An iron knife and a bronze buckle plate also accompanied the burial.

An image of the sword and its XRay featured on Day 117 and details of the excavation of the sword on Day 237.

VM_365 Day 237 Excavation of an Anglo Saxon sword

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The image for Day 237 of the VM_365 project shows the excavation of an Anglo Saxon sword from the Sarre cemetery in 1990. The sword was excavated from Grave 275 which contained the skeletal remains of an adult male aged between 25 to 30 years old.

This image, from the slide archives, is the only one we have which shows the excavation of the sword in progress. As you can see from the image, the sword was found above the body, probably originally placed on the lid of the coffin, with the skeletal remains located at a lower level in the grave.

The sword and details on its manufacture, as well as an X-Ray  image have previously featured on Day 117 .


VM_365 Day 229 Anglo Saxon Sunken Featured Building from Sarre

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Today’s image for Day 229 of the VM_365 project shows an Anglo Saxon sunken featured building, which was excavated during a Watching Brief on a pipeline at Sarre in 1991.

Sarre is perhaps better known for its extensive Anglo Saxon cemetery which has featured in many of our posts (Day 19, 33, 34, 35, 116, 117, 119, 120, 142, 147, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153 and 227) but to the east of the cemetery near the abandoned Perkins Chalk pit, this contemporary settlement evidence was discovered.

The Sarre structure was rectangular in plan measuring 3 metres by 4 metres and  0.4 metres deep and was cut into the chalk geology.  Two opposing postholes were located at either end of the central axis of the cut.  A shallow ledge is visible along one long edge, suggesting the possibility that a planked floor was supported by it.

A discussion of the function of Sunken Feaured  Buildings has previously featured in VM_365 along with a description of a similar building found at Margate on Day 83.

Although only one structure was observed during this work, other evidence of Anglo Saxon settlement  is likely to survive in the surrounding fields waiting to be discovered.




VM_365 Day 227 Anglo Saxon pottery from Sarre

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The image for Day 227 of the VM_365 project is taken from the illustrations of pottery vessels excavated at the Anglo Saxon cemetery at Sarre in the mid 19th century which were published in Archaeologia Cantiana by John Brent in 1868. The Sarre cemetery was not investigated again until over 100 years later in 1990 when a number of graves were excavated before a pipeline was laid across the site.

The  range of pottery vessels shown above, described by Brent as Anglo Saxon narrow necked pottery, include wheel turned bottle vases and a jug. One of the graves from the 1990 excavation contained a wheel thrown bottle vase similar to those above which was shown on Day 153 of the VM_365 project.


Brent, J. 1868. Account of the Society’s Researches in the Saxon Cemetery at Sarr. Part 3. Archaeologia Cantiana 7. 307-321



VM_365 Day 198 Middle Iron Age painted pottery

Image of Iron age paint decorated pottery
Early to middle Iron age polychrome decorated pottery

The image for Day 198 of the VM_365 project is of a sherd of multi-coloured or ‘polychrome’ decorated fineware pottery, dating from the Early to Middle Iron Age.

This group of conjoining sherds from a small-diameter beaker or round bodied jar, made in a fine fabric, was found at Sarre in 1991. The exact dating could be narrowed down further in the future, but it can be safely dated to between  around 450-350 BC.

The body of the vessel is painted with a triangular or chevron decoration in cream to white pigment.  The triangles are infilled with red iron-oxide pigment. This fragment of vessel is probably the best example that we currently have of this type of polychrome decorated pottery from Thanet.

Although only a small fragment of the pattern is present, it is possible to reconstruct the shape of the body of the pot from the curve of the sherds and to imagine how the pattern extended over the whole surface of the  exterior of the vessel.



VM_365 Day 153 Anglo Saxon bottle vase from Sarre

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For Day 153 of the VM_365 project our image shows an Anglo Saxon ceramic bottle vase, excavated in 1990 from Grave 277 at the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Sarre, the iron châtelaine ring and keys shown in yesterday’s post came from the same grave.

The bottle vase shown here is wheel turned in a smooth grey fabric and has been decorated with a lightly impressed rouletted chevron design. Fourteen similar vessels were excavated from graves in the same cemetery by John Brent in 1862.

Vessels of this type were manufactured on the continent by the people of the Frankish Kingdom, who also used them as grave goods. Examples from east Kent; other cemeteries in Thanet and graves from the Sarre cemetery are known to have been continental imports, considered by archaeologists to be luxury items. The decoration on the vessel from Sarre shown here is similar to, although slightly more complex, than an example found in grave 156 at Buckland Anglo-Saxon cemetery near Dover.

The vessel shown today has been carelessly cut from the potters wheel with wire so that it does not stand straight. It has been considered unlikely that a ‘second’  like this would  have been included in a shipment of luxury goods from the continent.

It has been suggested that because of the inferior execution of the manufacture of the vessel, it may have been the product of a less able local Anglo-Saxon potter rather than  a continental Frankish import. This idea perhaps underestimates several aspects of human nature that may have been at play in production, trade and consumption in Anglo-Saxon society.


VM_365 Day 152 Chatelaine and keys from Sarre

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Today’s image for VM_365 Day 152 shows a heavily corroded iron châtelaine ring holding two iron keys or latchlifters which were excavated from grave 277 at Sarre in 1990.

This grave was undisturbed. Because of its small size and the lack of survival of much of the bone. was interpreted as the grave of a child, probably female.  Along with the châtelaine and keys, a bottle vase and an iron knife were also found accompanying the individual in the grave.

The two keys or latchlifters were suspended from the iron ring and were accompanied by a hook ended object with a sliding fitting on its shaft, which may be a keeper designed to hold the  châtelaine fast to a girdle when it was worn around the waist.

VM_365 Day 151 Anglo Saxon Iron Knife from Sarre

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Our image for VM_365 Day 151 shows one of the most common artefacts excavated within Anglo Saxon graves; an iron knife.

Iron knives are often found in both male and female graves and come in many different types. This example was found in grave 279 at Sarre excavated in 1990. The grave it was found in had been heavily disturbed, probably through contemporary grave robbing. Skeletal material of four individuals was found scattered throughout the grave fill suggesting that the grave may originally have held multiple occupants.

Although this knife is heavily corroded you can clearly identify the tang and the blade. This knife originally had a wooden handle into which the tang fitted.  Iron knives from Anglo Saxon graves have been classified according to their size and shape by Vera Evison. This knife is of a late 6th to 7th century type and conforms to Evison’s type 1 classification.



VM_365 Day 150 Gold looped pendant from Sarre

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Today’s VM_365 Day 150 image shows a gold pendant excavated from an Anglo Saxon grave  at Sarre in 1990. The pendant is no longer in our possession and the image above was taken at the time of the excavation.

The large, well cut grave (grave 286) had been disturbed by grave robbing in antiquity and skeletal material, objects and fragments were scattered throughout the fill.  The skeletal material that could be identified indicated that the skeleton was of an adult and the grave goods suggest that it is likely to be an adult female. Objects found within the grave included a silver and glass keystone pendant, an iron key, iron knife, amber and glass beads, a bronze casket handle  and a Bronze key.

The pendant, weighing 1.63 grammes, is a made from a gold tremissis; a 6th century Merovingian coin that has had a  hanging loop added. The coin was minted in Austria or Burgundy in the name of Justinian I (527-565 AD) and its composition  has been measured using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry comprising 85.6% gold, 11.9% silver and 2.35% copper.


Perkins, D. R. J. 1991. The Jutish Cemetery at Sarre Revisited: A Rescue Evaluation. Archaeologia Cantiana CIX pp139-166