CANTERBURY (G-B) - Roman graves uncovered


Roman graves uncovered in Canterbury

Sian Napier



Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient burial ground in Kent where around a hundred people were laid to rest.

The site - dating back to the late Roman era - is on the former Hallets garage site in Canterbury's St Dunstan's.

Experts have found hardly any grave goods and since most of the bodies are lying east/west they are believed to be mainly Christian.

The excavation is being carried by Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

Director Paul Bennett said it was proving to be an exceptionally busy site, with later Anglo-Saxon rubbish pits and buildings.

"We have found some very nice Anglo-Saxon loom weights and the remains of major buildings along the St Dunstan's frontage," he said.

"The site was developed from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards and there were some very deep properties here, some going back 90ft.

"Some had deep back gardens and we have found cess pits and wells."

The back boundary of the site, which runs along part of the car park in Station Road West, once had a deep ditch and then a late 18th century synagogue which was demolished when Canterbury West station was built.

Mr Bennett said the late Roman cemetery contained a mixture of adult and children burials.

The skeletons are being carefully lifted and will be analysed to determine sex, age, illnesses and possible causes of death.

"It is not surprising that we have found a cemetery here as it is just outside the outskirts of the Roman town," Mr Bennett said.

"There are lots of modern foundations here but lots of the old buildings have also survived. It is a very complex site, with foundations cutting pits which are cutting graves."

The archaeologists are due to move off site this weekend when it will be developed for housing.

They will immediately move to the other side of the railway line in St Dunstan's and start excavating the former Watling Tyres depot before it is developed into sheltered housing.