KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH    Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Towns - Page 98

Acres Field, Murston. The coffin was afterwards melted down and used for sealing up the gas-mains of Sittingbourne (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 43 ; C. R. Smith, Coll. Ant. vii, 190).
  (7) South-east of this site and 250 yds. west of Tonge Vicarage, a number of vessels associated with ‘burnt bones were found and largely destroyed by clay-diggers. Some at least of the pottery which included a crater (form ii) alleged to be of Arretine, but possibly rather of South Gaulish fabric, dates from the earliest years of the Roman occupation (see Antiq. Journ. vi, 309, Journ. R. Studies, xiv, 239).
  (8) Rather more than a mile to the east of Sittingbourne, adjoining the highway, a few Roman graves mostly of the 1st century A.D. have been found at Bapchild. Pottery, probably from a grave group, found in 1929, included a small green-glazed jug of St. Remy ware and of mid 1st century ‘date (in Rochester Museum) (P1. XV, no.1). Earlier discoveries occurred mostly at Batfield within the parish. Coins reputed to have been found here include those of Faustina II, Gallienus, Tetricus, Maximianus, Constantine I, and Arcadius. Roach Smith noticed fragments of Roman tiles here about and to the eastward at the foot of Radfield Hill coins and potsherds are described as being constantly turned up  (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 88).
   (9) Lastly, nearly one mile west of Sittingbourne, where the parish of Borden impinges upon the Watling Street at the site of the former turnpike gate-house, yet another cemetery has come. to light. It lay to the south of the road and had, in part at least, been inclosed within a stone boundary wall, fragments of which (‘a rotten flint wall running east and west, and turning at right angles to the road at each of its extremities‘) were found about 1882. Within the inclosure was the base of a circular ‘tower ‘ 11½ ft. in diameter, doubtless the foundation of a monumental tomb; it was built of flint rubble with walls 5½ ft. thick, and upon the floor was a ‘ shallow tank, 7 ft. square and one foot deep, paved with Roman tiles.’ Between the tower and the road three skeletons and much debris were encountered. Other interments included an urn-buria1, a second cremation-burial in a circular leaden cist and a leaden coffin, elaborately decorated with cable-pattern. This coffin was 4½ ft.. long and lay at a depth of 7 ft. with the head towards the west. It contained the remains of a child about six years old, accompanied by armlets of jet and gold and a gold finger-ring of late 3rd- or 4th-century type. Outside the coffin, at the foot, was a vase of Castor ware, whilst at the head was an earthenware jug and ‘a cup of fine, white, transparent glass ornamented with round lozenges, similar to a tall modern ale glass ‘ (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 54 ; C. R. Smith, Coll. Ant. vii, 186; for the type of vessel, see J. Ward, The Roman Fort of Gellypaer, Fig.16). For similar walled cemeteries see under Springhead, p. 91, East Barming, p. 145, Lockham, pp. 144, 158, and Keston, p. 119). In the Dover Museum are many objects from Sittingbourne, including coarse pottery, two Samian saucers stamped SVOBNIM and REGINVS.F, an Upchurch saucer imitating a Samian shape, complete with bogus stamp, a huge urn, bits of bronze, a spur (? Roman) and glass beads.


   An obviously Roman road points southwards from Rochester to the great easterly bend in the Medway at Maidstone. At such a point a local concentration of the Romano-British population was almost inevitable. As so often the case in Kent, the traces of this population, though abundant enough, do not carry us far towards a reconstruction of the Roman settlement. A road (see p.138), two rather widely separated stone buildings, a considerable number of burials, and many stray discoveries of potsherds and other relics form the sum total of the material at present available. They are just sufficient to suggest that Roman Maidstone, again like other minor Kentish settlements, consisted of small nucleus of moderately prosperous farmers settled amidst or adjoining a considerable peasant population quartered in hutments that have left not a wrack behind. Let us emphasize this point. In our notes we must remember throughout that, in speaking of Roman Maidstone, we are isolating somewhat arbitrarily a unit which in Roman times may have had no real corporate entity. All along the Medway valley, at least as far south as Teston,88 nearly 4 miles above Maidstone, are remains of Roman ‘villas‘ and cemeteries and other evidences of Roman occupation. Amongst these, Maidstone has no more than
   88  See Villas and Topographical Index under Allington, Boxley, East Farleigh, East Barming, Teston, etc.

Previous Page          Page 98           Next Page

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

        Back to Towns page listings       Back to Contents Page        Back to Research    Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society May 2006

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs.  Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details to