Friday, December 07, 2007

A Buried Hstory

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


Michael Child said...

Thanet archaeological jewel in Kent’s crown, the quote below from TDC is their way of saying it would be a good idea to close our museums and flog them to a developer, so where do we display the archaeological finds, I suspect that a town with no cinema, no museum, no schools, no shops, will be called a designated area of intense occupation.
“A thorough review of the current museum exhibits, with the aim of establishing a series of high-quality themed exhibitions which can be displayed at various venues across the district and, possibly, county.
The presentation of a core, static museum display on the ground floor of Albion House, Ramsgate – in rooms not required for civic accommodation
The release of accommodation currently occupied at both Ramsgate and Margate for potential alternative commercial or community”

DrMoores said...

I can't really comment on the museum issue other than to remark that it has nothing to do with developers and everything to do with money.

Only 40% of our income comes from the community charge and when central government makes a dramatic cut in our funding, difficult decision have to be made.

You know better than me Michael

""Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

Mr. Micawber."

Michael Child said...

Simon this is a matter of priorities, answer if you will, what do you call a town without shops museum cinema in fact any leisure facilities that are not centred around drinking?

I find I am very angry indeed, we have elected our government both local and national with one of their tasks being to protect us from the very wealthy but unscrupulous. We have made them custodians of our heritage, which is the reflection by which we identify ourselves.

So if there is no developer in the background expecting to get both these sites on the cheap why not make the museums self funding, I am probably not the brightest card in the deck so you can probably come up with more ideas than me, but here are a few for our maritime museum.

1 The tourist information centre could be relocated in the Maritime Museum, at the moment it’s where no tourist would ever be able to find it.

2 A museum shop should be able to produce a reasonable profit, I have offered them the very favourable deal with local books I give to the Spitfire museum and I know they do well with all sorts of other items.

3 The Sundowner could be rented out as holiday accommodation in the same way as The Grange is by English Heritage.

4 I think we perhaps should be thinking much more in terms of offering tourists a Ramsgate experience centred on the museum. I don’t think it would be difficult to find volunteers to take guided groups to see things like, inside the lighthouse, magazine, sailor’s church etc.

5 The museum needs volunteer help with the Cervia, which not very long ago had its engine running with an external steam boiler but would run just as well with compressed air.

6 There are a great many interesting vessels that would be donated or loaned by people and could be displayed in the disused railway tunnel.

7 The existing boat trips could be integrated into the whole experience.

8 There are many other things around Ramsgate that are disused or partly used and would integrate well like the Granville ballrooms and cellars, customs house.

9 Much of the pleasure of Ramsgate harbour used to be being able to walk around the pontoons looking at the boats, security and safety reasons now prevent this but organized tours with life jackets provided should be possible.

10 The museum and its vessels could operate in the evening as a themed restaurant.

11 A café using the area behind the museum would work it even has its own beach, the museum basement could be tanked for this purpose.

12 A charity shop could be set up to help fund the museum.

Most of all though get rid of the entrance fee and get some footfall in the museum better still try charging an entry fee to the various Turner contemporary expeditions so people can get their priorities right.

As a bookseller in Thanet I am in a position to be able to tell you the communities interest in contemporary art relative to local history. I sell books about both subjects I have 38 shelves devoted to Kent history 17 shelves devoted to art about a shelf of which is more modern than Picasso.

DrMoores said...

But Michael it comes back to the question, who pays for all of this?

Michael Child said...

Simon these are methods of funding the museum, we have several museums in the area the spitfire museum funds itself and has free entrance, it can be done just relocating the tourist information centre takes away the cost of funding an entire building.

The most profitable retail enterprise is a café selling expensive coffee and frankly you couldn’t have a better site, you don’t need to pay for this, quite the reverse there are plenty of private firms who would pay for use of the site, but to get the most return for the museum they would need to run it themselves, hence a small investment.

DrMoores said...

Commenting on a broad front, these are eminently sensible points Michael but who is going to take the financial risk of doing it and given the immediate financial requirements who will do it within say three months?

As an analogy, it's like a train running along a railway track but someone has removed some of the rails a few short miles down the line.

Michael Child said...

Simon it just isn’t true to say that this is the only area that cuts can be made, particularly as the tourist information building could be sold to finance making the museum self financing. This is about the difference between good government that manages to retain services by changing the way that they are financed and bad government that just gives in.

I am concerned that looking at TDCs budget I see that the chief executives budget has trebled from 2006/7 to 2007/8 I am not saying that there is anything untoward here but it is an area where it may be possible to make a small saving.

On a brighter note I have published about 200 old pictures of Thanet many not seen before and linked them to the various articles on my blog in the last week do feel free to use any you want. I would add the links to them but have no idea how to do this in a comment.

DrMoores said...

You asked about the Chief Executive's budget before and I believe you were answered. Without looking back I think it had to do with departmental re-allocation but it was innocent enough and did not reflect a real increase.
If something is to be self-financiing it needs to be able to attract sufficient revenue to stand alone. The problem here is that subsidies are no longer realistic!

Michael Child said...

Simon I am not suggesting that there is anything untoward with the chief executives budget increase merely that it could be disorganized back to the previous state where it was cheaper.

However I didn’t like the way this whole thing was handled, smelt a little rat as it were, as far as I know the first the museum staff heard that they would all be sacked was when I left a comment on on the post, for some time now I have suspected you of being a gentleman, a dubious accusation in these interesting times, however you may agree that posting the intention of closing the museums on the web, before telling the staff suggests some sort of person, who perhaps is just rude by accident.

DrMoores said...

What you will have read in the paper and elsewhere this week reflects a set of speculative proposals built around the budet requirements of Thanet and in this example I would agree that it's important to not "jump the gun" in making announcements that don't yet have a tangible existence

Michael Child said...

“making announcements that don't yet have a tangible existence,” ah I see you are learning the gov code. Think what would happen if one made, in fact, an announcement that did have a tangible existence. Perhaps in Merlin’s time a wizards words would fly round his head like angry insects. I can only infer that you like me would have said sorry chaps it’s the sack, and are now wondering about the rat, but still the question remains. what do you call a town without shops museum cinema in fact any leisure facilities that are not centred around drinking?

DrMoores said...

You know very well Michael that I can't pass anything more than the broadest non-specific comment on matters that I may have a direct involvement in.

I do however share your concerns about the town, I'm sure everyone does and we are in fact workingvery hard to find ways of solving these difficult problems without the benefit of any large government cash injection.

Perhaps we should move Thanet to Scotland?

Michael Child said...

So much trouble posting this comment don’t know why

Simon only one paper hasn’t emailed today

E.g. Well, I’ll have a look.
And you a bookshop owner, tut-tut!

A”lways keep your tips coming, Michael.
Even if we don’t use them it doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of space and the fact that I - being the sole Thanet reporter here – am rushed off my feet!”

One fine day in the middle of the night
Two dead men got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other

{One was blind and the other couldn't see
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play
A dumb man went to shout "hooray!"
And two lame men came to carry them away]

The restraint of all the people who from the counter look, the lack of IRA questions says so much for the good people of Thanet on this issue, yes they care and enough is

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to get hot under the collar over the museum closure claims. I do not know if TDC intends this as a 'floater' and if there is no outcry will move on it. The day a Tory TDC closes its museums is the day when I go and support Labour at local level. I would suggest that those who want TDC to look elsewhere for their paltry £100,000 saving and leave the museums alone contact their local councillors and express similar feelings.

DrMoores said...

By all means lobby your councillors, a sensible idea but regardless of political party, where will the money come from. Simply stated, if it goes to the museums it will be re-allocated from elsewhere. Unless of course you would prefer to see the council tax raised by a proportionate amount?

£100,000 in the local scheme of things is far from a Paltry amount". People clearly do not recognise how little money we have and the demands, particularly from the social/welfare sector on local funds.

Until I became a local councillor, I had no idea what we were up against in terms of making the budget balance. You can't go and ask for an Ocean Finance loan either!!

So in conclusion, there is a stated problem with the museums. They are part of our heritage and yet we apparently can't afford their up-keep at present visitor levels. If it were a business what would you do?

Anonymous said...

What visitor levels would satisfy TDC? 20,000 or 100,000? They are not businesses that you can do a cost benefit analysis on. They are an integral part of our cultural fabric and cheap at the price. Figures for the expected subsidy for Turner Mark II to be paid by Thanet Council Tax payers per annum being banded around last year were in the region of £1 million per annum. If this is any where near the truth, TDC should immediately withdraw its support of Turner C on the basis that its council tax payers should not be asked or expected to spend money needed in other vital areas on supporting a project that makes no business sense. If our museums are being looked at as businessses then so must TC and TDC need to be consistent in their philosophy!