Prior to the building phase on the Fresca "Thanet Earth" site between Monkton and St Nicholas, an intensive archaeological study and excavation is under way. Conservative Councillor Dr. Alasdair Bruce, an expert geologist, recently visited the site to inspect the work being done.
Headed by Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT), the aim is to record and recover any exciting finds and features. The Isle of Thanet has long been recognised as one of the archaeological jewels in Kent's crown and this site is proving to be no exception. Already features such as Iron Age and Roman field systems are coming to light along with Roman cremation cemeteries.
CAT's director Paul Bennett says;
"We are seeing evidence everywhere we look of enclosures, ditches and drove ways telling us that this area has been in cultivation at least back to the Iron Age and probably earlier" "We have highly qualified staff working on this site recording all information unearthed".
Much of the work involves careful scraping off of top soil in likely areas of former habitation, looking for remains and artefacts, which are then removed and the areas mapped.
Cllr. Dr. Alasdair Bruce says
" Although my profession is geology, I could not help but be inspired by the level of care being taken by the site owners and CAT to ensure all evidence of Thanet's past is properly recorded."
On observing the cremated roman remains seen in a pot on the site Cllr Bruce said
"To be this close to an ancient Thanetian was a privilege and an honour. This was a new and exciting experience for me."
Photo Credit - Kim Bruce
The earliest known reference to Thanet is in Ptolemy's geography of the 2nd century. It refers to an island east of the Trinovantes region as "Toliapis" - probably Thanet
12th century Saxon chronicles refer to "Tenet", noting the island as a winter base for Viking raiding parties
18th century sources refer to "Tanatus", a Celtic name meaning "bright island" from the word "teine", meaning fire, or bonfire, thought to refer to a Romano-British lighthouse on the island