Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dig for Three Days 2013 – Day Three brings in the Eagle Festival

Our three days of Roman themed digging came to an end on the 19th of September with 16 groups of local school children coming through the entrance of our Dig and Discover tent.

Our Dig and Discover area at Dig for Three Days
Our Dig and Discover area at Dig for Three Days

Over 240 children took part in the activities on the final day, being introduced to the finds that archaeologists use to discover new information on how and where the Romans lived in Thanet.

Dig for Three Days - Roman activities for Thanet Schools
Dig for Three Days – Roman activities for Thanet Schools

The session began with a display of real Roman artefacts found in Thanet and then a hands on dig to get a feel for what it is like to find ancient objects buried in the ground and how archaeologists piece together the finds and their ideas about the Romans into the story of Roman Britain.

The teams of diggers even got a brief lesson in Latin, learning the words used by the Romans for their roof tiles and special pottery vessels.

Commitatus cavalry display
Cavalry display by Roman reenactment group Commitatus

It wasn’t the end of the Roman activities for the week though, and as we packed up our finds, Roman reenactment group Commitatus were bringing their tents, equipment and even horses on to the field to begin two days of displays and activities, ending with the Eagle festival on Saturday 21st of September  when Commitatus gave two displays to the public of Roman gladiatorial combat and horesemanship.

The children of Bradstow School gave their performance of the Eagle of the Ninth and the day ended with multi-media performance of the Eagle on Broadstairs beach and a spectacular fireworks display to end the festival.

Mini-grips in use

Sorting the sherds of Roman roughcast beaker pottery
Sorting the sherds of Roman roughcast beaker pottery

As promised here is a photo of the mini-grip bags from our most recent wishlist donation in use to bag up the pieces of three fine Roman roughcast beakers found among the soil backfilling a deep a well at the Abbey Farm Roman Villa at Minster in Thanet.

These delicate sherds of thin walled pottery, coated on their outer surface with rough grits, are the remains of three fine cups which stood on a small circular pedestal.

The beakers were imported to Britain in the Roman period and are made in Argonne beaker fabric, Cologne Colour-coated whiteware and Central Gaulish Colour-coated whiteware, dating between the 2nd and 3rd century AD.

Repackaging the beakers for storage
Repackaging the beakers for storage

The roughcast beaker fragments were found among the larger and heavier fragments of thick walled jars and bowls from the same deposit.

We have picked out these finer vessel fragments from the group found in the well so they can be used for teaching and displays in the future.

Now they will be able to travel more comfortably without being crowded by their chunkier friends, thanks to the donation of these bags.

Many hands make light work

Hands digging in sand with small trowels
Many hands make light work of the digging in our sand boxes

The second day of Dig for Three days brought more groups from local schools to learn about the archaeology of the Roman period, in Thanet and beyond. Another 150 aspiring archaeologists passed through our Dig and Discover activity tent to find out what evidence archaeologists use to piece together the way of life of the Romans. The groups on this second day were from both mainstream and special needs schools in Thanet, but all were able to take part in digging and discovering in the sands of time, well at least the sand in our dig boxes.

We are all looking forward to our third day tomorrow, with a busy timetable programmed.

Sorting the finds into types
Sorting the finds into types

Dig for Three Days 2013 begins

Today was the first day of the Roman themed Dig for Three Days event at Bradstow School, Broadstairs. We had a great day with our Roman themed display teaching the budding archaeologists from several local schools what they might find digging on a Roman site. Then the children had the chance to do their own dig and discover finds that help them understand the Roman way of life in Thanet. Two more days to go, then its the Eagle festival at Broadstairs at the weekend.

Display of Roman artefacts
Our Roman display representing the pottery, buildings and people of Roman Britain

Mini-grip gratitude!

Mini-grip bags from our wishlist
Mini-grip bags from our wishlist

Many thanks for another donation from our Amazon wishlist, these write on mini-grip bags. Monday brought a note from the weekend postman, suggesting he had left a parcel in ‘greenhouse’, by which he meant our generously proportioned polythene palace of productivity (the excellent culti-cave). Duly inspected it revealed a tightly wrapped parcel of mini-grip bags, which were immediately pressed into service bagging selected sherds of decorated Roman pottery in the store (images to follow).

Sadly there was no address attached and so we can’t thank our donor personally (drop us an email), but rest assured the donation is much appreciated and will be contributing to the good of the finds collections for some time.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…

Autumn is definitely arriving this week and it’s time to reflect on one of the benefits of being located on a site in a popular rural tourist attraction in Kent. We thought we would take this chance to review the season’s produce with you and show you that our lives are not all about the ancient ruins.

Our garden at the Antoinette Centre
Our garden at the Antoinette Centre

There’s plenty of space here at the Antoinette Centre and we have used it to our advantage to create a garden where we can spend our few moments of leisure when we’re not musing on the past.

The garden brings us back to the present and helps us look forward to the promise of the songs of spring and better weather for digging, archaeology and gardens!

Planter, built from a filing cabinet
Planter files

We’ve even brought some redundant office furniture into use for its true purpose, to be turned on their side and filled with soil (or filed with soil?).  we say tear down your offices and build up gardens instead.

Courgette abundance
Courgette abundance

Among the flowers and climbing plants, cuttings and seedlings we have been growing vegetables for a few years now. Our courgettes, the vegetable that keeps on giving, have kept us abundantly supplied throughout the summer. A few green beans were excellent, diced in a tomato sauce and eaten with pasta.

Our fantastic culti-cave has brought us our earliest fruiting tomatoes (Gardeners Delight), some cucumbers, fresh basil (Genovese) all year and even some chilli peppers (just Cayenne, nothing fancy). These plastic productivity palaces should be put on the list of desert island survival essentials!

tomatoes and chilli plants in the cave
tomatoes and chilli plants in the cave
Our productive culti-cave
Our productive culti-cave

But, our most abundant crop to date is the outdoor tomato farm, the result of a rash seed planting strategy early in the year and several free packets of seeds given away with our favourite garden newspaper.

Our outdoor range includes a few mighty beef tomatoes, the majestic San Marzano for our ‘talian store cupboard, vine plum tomatoes and a very productive cherry variety. Thanks to Wilkinson discounting their tomato planters in the nick of time, all the seeds we planted were nurtured to their late summer prime.

All our remaining tomatoes are beginning to be rendered into the winter staples of sauce for the freezer and chutney to brighten the long winter nights to come.

Fruitful harvest of tomatoes and basil
Fruitful harvest

A wish granted!

Much needed storage boxes and mini-grip bags
Much needed storage boxes and mini-grip bags donated from our wishlist

We’d like to take this chance to thank Sue Carter, of Fortified England fame, for making a donation to the Trust of items from our Amazon wishlist, which has items, large and small, that we need, or use frequently, for packaging, cataloguing and storing artefacts and archives in our care, so that they can be kept in good condition.

With no prospect in the near future of there being a suitable museum in Thanet that would be prepared to take on the task of looking after the archaeological finds and archives from historic excavations, we have a long task ahead of us making sure that the finds are kept in good order. Our aim is to organise our stored material so that they can be used as a resource for teaching as many people as possible about the rich archaeological heritage of Thanet, to make our past part of our future.

You can read more about Making our Past Part of our Future, take a look at our web page to see why the Trust needs your support.

St Augustine and Thanet – Writing local history for a national icon.

Once again Ges Moody took part in the annual Summer Squall event organised by Ramsgate arts and held over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Ges gave a talk at Ramsgate Library on Saturday morning about St Augustine’s landing in Thanet, based on research he carried out for his latest book. The talk was well attended and despite the distraction provided by a faulty ventilator alarm, proved to be quite enthralling.

Ges’s subject was not a simple regurgitation of the legend of St Augustine’s landing on Thanet; his reconstruction of the landscape, examination of the types of settlements and the costumes of the population of Thanet at that time enabled the audience to imagine a picture of Thanet from the distant Anglo Saxon past. He added further depth and colour by exploring the national and international political relationships of the time, proving to the listener that this was not a simple act of conversion of a pagan people but a more complicated interaction of nations, people and ideas.

The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, and the opportunity for Ges to sign a few copies of the book!



St. Augustine’s First Footfall is available to order from our publications page:  and you can read a summary of the book here: