(most likely of the pre-Norman period), 3 ft. 3 in.
wide, and 3 ft. from either end; the jambs not splayed but running
straight through at right angles to the walls. Among the debris in this porticus
were found several pieces of glass and of fused bronze, and portions of
a door and late Tudor window; and, deeper down, two or three fragments
of Roman pottery. Under a close layer of brick earth, seven or eight
inches below the tile pavement, is a floor of concrete, shewing in parts
marks of fire. This concrete floor seems to extend beneath the present
altar, and is also traceable in adjacent portions of the nave, and again
at the approach to the chancel, where we discover something like steps.
I need only add that the floor of the porticus was originally on
the same level as that of the rest of the nave, but was raised one step
above it when the later church was built.
Everywhere throughout the excavations are evident traces of
burnt earth and other calcined substances.
It is to be borne in mind that the foundation-walls
throughout (being twenty inches wide) are composed of Roman tiles bound
together in some places by salmon-coloured mortar, in others by mortar
sea-shells and pebbles, and even later material.
These are the facts and the data. What conclusion then are
we to draw? That there was on this spot some early Roman building,
whether of a secular or religious character, is indisputable. There is a
vague tradition that there was once here a Romano-British church, and
this having fallen into decay may have been partially restored and used
by Ethelbert for a heathen temple. We have Thorn's story, written 500
years ago, and it is of course possible that he had consulted earlier
records. It seems to me incredible that he should have written as he has
done if the first church on the spot had been of Norman work, built only
some 200 or 300 years before his own time; for he was a monk of St.
Augustine's, and had free access to their chronicles. His testimony
therefore (though not to be implicitly received) must, I think, be
entitled to some weight.
But we must chiefly rely on the excavations themselves. The
Roman tiles are pronounced to be of a good time, and