One hundred and sixty six years and three months ago, three men; William Henry Rolfe, Charles Roach-Smith (biography) and Thomas Wright (biography) began an archaeological investigation at a site near Ramsgate. In the previous year Anglo-Saxon burials and Roman finds had been made when a deep railway cutting was excavated through the open chalk downland at a place called Ozengall Down, or Osendun.
Over many years, starting in 1976, the site has been explored by members of Thanet’s archaeological community. Over time a landscape was revealed that was settled in the early prehistoric period and continued to be a place of cultural significance into the early medieval period. Even after a little more than a century and a half of archaeological investigation, there is still more to learned about this landscape.
The training excavation
In August this year a training excavation led by the Trust for Thanet Archaeology, with students from the University of Kent, will once again be exploring this hillside overlooking Pegwell Bay. The project’s aim is to look again at we think we know about the settlement on the site. The results of older excavations need to be checked with modern methods and the knowledge we have already gained reviewed and revised while it is still possible to access the site.
Initial targets are to revisit part of the area of an earlier excavation of part of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and re-plan graves that were emptied in 1982, with the aim of verifying the location of the original survey of the site (see our Virtual Museum page on Anglo-Saxon Thanet). We will also sample a small area of a Bronze Age round barrow to reconsider the previous interpretation of how the circular ditch, which once surrounded a central mound, was filled (see our Virtual Museum page on round barrows). The team will also investigate how pits that were dug through the barrow in a later period show whether it had survived in the landscape and possibly discover something about the way people who dug the pits understood the older monument.
Our two week dig excavation hopes to answer some of these questions and others that will arise as we carry out the latest investigation of this historic part of Thanet’s landscape.
Follow the progress of the dig
Updates to these journal entries will include key finds, new ideas and new questions that we can ask of the archaeological records and the features that we excavate.