Who were the people that lived in Thanet in ancient times?
We can never know anything about a large number of them, who have left neither written records or are represented by their remains. Occasionally some small remnant of their identity is asserted in some way through an archaeological find.
Our Image for VM_365 today shows one of those tiny echoes of a person who may have lived near Broadstairs in the Roman period in the 2nd century AD.
This fragment of a dish in Central Gaulish samian fabric (Drag. 18/31 R), dating from the early to Mid 2nd century, is marked with scratched letters reading TICI, probably part of the owners name. The sherd was found in the remains of a Roman building on the cliffs above Viking Bay in Broadstairs. Samian vessels could be large and these fine tablewares were probably expensive to replace and were often marked with names, scratched by hand into the glossy surface of the vessel.
Although we are lucky to have increasing numbers of written fragments dating from the Roman period in Britain, even sets of letters and accounts from one site, this small body of writing can only hint at the many ways that the skill of literacy might have been used in the Roman period.
In this case the writer used his skill to identify an object as his own and this act is preserved in a remarkable and rare survival into our own age.