VM_365 Day 57 Ramsgate’s lost artefacts, where are they now?

Photograph of artefacts from the Ramsgate area published by Robert Hicks MRCS in 1878
Photograph of artefacts found in or near the Ramsgate area published by Robert Hicks MRCS in 1878

Following on from the image of a Roman burial at Ramsgate from VM_365 Day 56, today’s picture shows a collection of archaeological artefacts from private collections that were discovered in Ramsgate before the photograph was published in an article for Archaeologia Cantiana, the journal of the Kent Archaeological Society, in 1878.

Ramsgate was lucky to have one of Thanet’s most diligent and learned pioneering archaeologists in Robert Hicks, a surgeon who joined Ramsgate’s Seaman’s Infirmary & General Hospital in the middle of the 19th century and maintained a keen interest in the local archaeological discoveries that were being made as the town expanded. Hicks deserves to better known in the story of Ramsgate’s cultural heritage and it would serve the town well if more biographical details could be added to his own story by some local researcher.

Robert Hicks oversaw the collection and photographing of the artefacts and and wrote the article that it illustrated. To accompany the picture in the published article, reproduced in the image above, Hicks listed the location where each of these finds was made, giving a brief description and dates for each of them as current archaeological knowledge stood.

While his focus in the article was predominantly in the abundant finds of the Roman period, several of the artefacts shown in the picture published in the 1878 article are certainly from earlier periods in prehistory, including Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age axes and what seems to be a finely made Early Bronze Age flint dagger. Two Iron Age fibula brooches are present, along with several late Iron Age ‘Belgic’ pottery vessels.

Sadly none of these artefacts can be located today and Ramsgate’s heritage is poorer for the loss of a collection of artefacts that would grace any local museum and would contribute to telling a longer and more complex story of the area than is generally known to the town’s residents. Now only Hicks’s published photograph exists to help us understand what we have lost.


Hicks R. 1878.  Roman Remains from Ramsgate. Archaeologia Cantiana Vol.12, p.14 – 18.

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