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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Country Houses - Page 109

tessellation are stated to have been faint, and the villa may well have consisted of two or more separate structures. If we may argue from the coins, the Occupation of the site seems to have begun and ended comparatively early.
   11 and 12. BURHAM.—(a) A small building was found in 1896 near Burham Court Farm, about midway between Little Culand and Burham Old Church, on the east side of the Medway valley. Other Roman remains have been noted in the neighbourhood, a building three-quarters of a. mile away to the north-west   (b) below), traces of occupation near Kit’s Coty (p. 104, No. 3b), and. half a mile to the south-east towards Aylesford, and buildings on the opposite side of the river at Snodland (p. 124). The Burham house was excavated by Mr. Payne and found to be a small oblong structure,. 34 ft. by 60 ft. in area, with flint walls, containing six rooms. The room at the north-west angle (16 ft. by 18 ft.) contained a channelled hypocaust with eight flues formed by box tiles laid in pairs in its walls (A on plan). Painted wall-plaster (black, grey, green, ochre and dark red) was found here. Another room at the south end had a concrete floor of broken tile, mortar and flints. Of the other rooms nothing is known. The smaller finds included stone roof-slabs, tiles, potsherds, a bronze bow fibula, bones and oyster-shells, but no coins or other datable remains.16  The house was. plainly a small cottage, with warm room or bath at the north end; it bears some slight resemblance to. a building at Ellesborough in Bucks., though that apparently was not heated.17


Fig 26  Section of supposed Mithraic Chamber discovered at Burham, Kent
(From Proc. Soc. Antiq. xvi, 116)

   (b) An underground building was revealed in November 1893 in a sandbank on Messrs. Peter’s Wouldham Cement Works in the parish of Burham, about 50 yds. east of a sudden bend in the Medway, and about half-way along its course between Maidstone and Rochester (fig. 25). It consisted of a single vaulted chamber built into a rectangular excavation, and placed east and west. It measured internally about 40 ft. by 19 ft., and about 12 ft. high. The walls were 1 ft. 10 in. to 3 ft. thick, increasing in width near the springing of the vault, and were constructed of chalk rubble set in strong mortar and faced inside with dressed chalk blocks about 16 in. long and 4˝ in. wide, decorated with broaching, etc., though some of the upper courses were only 4˝ in. square. Only the spring of the arch survived, but the roof had been ‘constructed with rounded-headed arches meeting in grooves in the
   16  Payne, Arc4. Cant. xxiii, 10, and Proc. Soc. Ant. xviii, 38; Patrick, Brit. Arch. Assoc. Journ. (new series, 1897) iii, 31—5 with plan here reproduced. A wall was traced for 30 ft. with others at this place in 1918. Arch. Cant. xxxiv, 155. Sir George Macdonald, in a detailed discussion of the hypocaust system, points out (Proc. Soc. Antiq Scot. lxiii, 1930, p. 460) that channelled hypocausts were used for heating by hot air and not by radiation of floor or walls, the fuel used being charcoal, one of his arguments being the absence of ’tubulation’ or jacket of box tiles set in rebates in the walls. But here we have both tubulation and channelled hypocaust, and perhaps We may assume heating by radiation particularly as the passages for the flues had been cut in the chalk and lined with ‘coarse brown plaster’; the chalk would not hold the heat as would the masses of stones packed with clay at Mumrills (ibid. p. 457). It should be added that the surrounding flue here was at a lower level than the radiating flue, but that the southern end of the central flue was at a lower level than the opposite or Stokehole end, arrangements doubtless made for the equal distribution of heat.
   17 For the Ellesborough building, see Bucks Records, ii, 5 36.

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