Dear Reader, we will be emailing a Newsletter each year to keep you up to date with news and views on what is planned at the Kent Archaeological Field School and what is happening on the larger stage of archaeology both in this country and abroad. To become a member or subscribe to the free newsletter go to the home page of www.kafs.co.uk  and click where it says ‘Click Here’.

I hope you enjoy! Paul Wilkinson.




Christmas 29AD and 2019AD!



It was a public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home. A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. But it wasn’t Christmas. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival. But was Christmas, Western Christianity’s most popular festival, derived from the pagan Saturnalia?

The first-century AD poet Gaius Valerius Catullus described Saturnalia as ‘the best of times’: dress codes were relaxed, small gifts such as dolls, candles and caged birds were exchanged.

Saturnalia saw the inversion of social roles. The wealthy were expected to pay the month’s rent for those who couldn’t afford it, masters and slaves to swap clothes. Family households threw dice to determine who would become the temporary Saturnalian monarch. The poet Lucian (AD 120-180) has the Roman god Saturn say in his poem, Saturnalia:

‘During my week the serious is barred: no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping.................an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water- such are the functions over which I preside’.

Saturnalia grew in duration and moved to progressively later dates under the Roman period. During the reign of the Emperor Augustus (63 BC-AD 14), it was a two-day affair starting on December 17th. By the time Lucian described the festivities, it was a seven-day event. Changes to the Roman calendar moved the climax of Saturnalia to December 25th, around the time of the date of the winter solstice.

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The KAFS year so far and other years...


KAFS ‘dig’ at Bridge just outside Canterbury- can you name the diggers and the year? First answer on a postcard wins a free course!


For 2020 we will be continuing to explore the Roman villa and watermill at Wye (below)



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2019 geophysical surveys and excavations at Teston Roman Villa

Excavation by the Kent Archaeological Field School over the 2019 Easter holidays has solved an archaeological mystery that that had eluded archaeologists for the last 100 years. In 1872 Arthur Fremling found in his hop gardens the remains of a Roman bath house and the find was described as being ‘about four English miles from Maidstone, on the left side of the river, are to be seen the remains of a villa.............the situation is pleasant, and as is usual in Roman sites, well chosen, being on a crest of a gently sloping valley looking over the river [Medway]’.



In October 1991 Canterbury Archaeological Trust were called to a site in Teston, just west of Maidstone to investigate Roman remains uncovered by Southern Water whilst constructing a new sewer. It became apparent that a Roman building had been impacted on and CAT’s work uncovered walls that for the most part had been robbed out. Later in the 20th century the Maidstone Archaeological Group investigated the site but could not find the 19th century discovery of the bath house.

Last year a geophysical survey took place down slope from the CAT discoveries and possible masonry walls identified. Subsequently the Kent Archaeological Field School were invited by the owner to investigate the site and a field walking weekend in March identified an area of disturbed Roman masonry below that of the CAT discovery and above that of the geophysical survey. Hand digging of test pits identified a substantial deposit of Roman building material and on opening up the trench the south wall stretching for 39m was exposed and running east-west, At each end substantial towers or pavilions were also exposed. Rooms with hypocaust heating were exposed to the north and stretching into the adjoining field and towards CATs investigations in 1991.



Marble tessarae from a mosaic pavement were found in the hypocausts along with copious amounts of painted plaster and window glass. The location of the 1872 discovery was identified and is situated in the north-west area of the villa (see above plan). It seems the villa developed over the four centuries of Roman government and although we have identified the main part of the villa there is still areas of the site which may have additional buildings.

Decorated Samian ware sherds date the construction of the towers or pavilions to the 2nd century AD whilst North Thameside ware datedthe main range to late 1st century AD, whilst coins recovered from the site range from Nerva (96- 98AD) to Honorius (393-423AD). Anglo Saxon pottery found adjacent to the main range show occupation in the 7th century AD

Situated in the upper reaches of the River Medway valley with water connections to Rochester and London in a setting which is Arcadian the villa estate would have been the centre of a burgeoning enterprise with the opportunity to exploit the natural resources of woodland, Kentish rag stone and first class grazing for herds and flocks. It is also within a day’s journey by water to London and we know from Pliny and Ausonius the preoccupation of the Roman landed gentry with the Arcadian delights of the countryside.

"The clear river's tidal flow Takes me by boat from home, And brings me home again.... Not far from town I live, Yet not hard by.... I change about. And get the best of town And country, turn by turn."



These easy verses of Ausonius, a 4th century villa owner near Bordeaux indicate the preoccupation of the Roman landed gentry with the Arcadian delights of the countryside.

But the same mutuality between town and country was at work when the poetic oxymoron of a wellgroomed arcadia took the form of a Roman country villa. The ancient ideal of country life as a corrective to the corruption, intrigue, and disease of the town was always a spur to rustication in a locus amoerms, a "place of delight". It was no accident that Pliny the Younger cited the closeness of his seaside villa at Laurentinum, seventeen miles from Rome, as one of its chief virtues.

Laurentinum by-the-sea was a weekend place for Pliny, "large enough to afford a convenient, though not sumptuous reception for my friends." It had a breezy atrium, hot tubs, a well-stocked library, figs and mulberries in the garden, terrific views over the water, and a steady supply of fresh seafood. Pliny thought of the view, "not as a real land, but as an exquisite painting".

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Training Week in August 2019 at the Kent Archaeological Field School in Faversham


Fifteen newcomers to archaeology sat down with experts and specialists from SWAT Archaeology and KAFS to go through what is required in excavating and recording on a modern archaeological site.



A full house of eager young and old and in between all coming together to participate in the mysteries of modern archaeology including understanding the amazing aerial photography taken this year of the site by Google Earth!



In addition survey and excavation techniques were explored and practised on the Roman aisled barn, part of a Roman villa estate in the adjacent town of Faversham in Kent which was found through field walking a number of years ago by the Kent Archaeological Field School.



This was the last year at this site and the focus is now getting the report together and published.

The excavated plan of the Roman aisled barn at Abbey Barns and view of the 2019 Abbey Barn excavations





The until now unknown Roman stone building is 150 feet long and had been found by the Kent Archaeological Field School in Faversham in Kent close to the Roman villa excavated in 1960 by Brian Philp and has now completed its final area of excavation.
The building was investigated by over 20 students who attended the field school training week in August 2019 and for them it was a uniqueexperience on seeing how an investigation of an important Roman building was undertaken. The work has shown that the survival of the building was amazing with stone walls, opus signinum floors (polished terracotta floors), under floor hypocaust heating, all untouched, and covered by tons of ceramic roof tiles and the collapsed stone walls covering huge amounts of box flue tiles which were used to direct hot air up the interior walls. Painted plaster from these walls is mostly white but the hot sauna room on the north side of the building had plaster walls decorated in green, red and yellow panels.
Outside the north wall recent work has shown that the tidal waters of the Swale estuary lapped the building and investigation has shown a large tidal inlet existed here in the Roman period, and was deep enough to form a harbour for Roman ships.



The Roman building itself has a coin and pottery range from the 1st to the late 4th century and numerous Roman domestic articles were also recovered including silver jewellery, bone hair pins and the remains of exotic glass vessels.
The building is huge, in fact the largest so far found in this part of Kent at 45m (150ft) long and 15.40m wide, which is about 50 Roman feet wide. The outside walls were built of mortared Kentish rag stone and flint nodules with the collapsed walls indicating a height of about 3m for the outer walls. Levelling courses of Roman tile were also a feature of the walls. Large quantities of window glass have also been retrieved.
Investigation has unravelled some of the mystery of the buildings function and this work is still on-going. Excavation has shown the building was originally built in the early 2nd century AD as an aisled barn with a mortar and chalk floor.
Forensic investigation has revealed the remains of the stalls used to contain the Roman estate farm animals. Very soon after, the building was rebuilt as a huge bath house with hot rooms, steam rooms, and warm rooms used for massage. The decoration has a feel of a municipal baths with none of the luxurious features one would expect of a private enterprise bath house. Given the size of the bath house it is far too large for a Roman villa estate and must have catered for another set of clientele most likely the passing trade of visiting Roman merchant ship crews and passengers waiting for the tide to take them to London.



Christmas Gifts/Bling!

Stuck for a Christmas Gift – then try www.danegeld.co.uk  who make accurate historic jewellery and include Celtic to Early Roman to Victorian to Art Deco at affordable prices...



Christmas Gifts/and something for the home

Everything from Roman potteryTerra Sigillata to the Ancient Roman folding stool of Hadrian and all can be found at https://theancienthome.com/collections/roman-pottery-terra-sigillata 



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Burial Chamber of a wealthy Anglo-Saxon nobleman found in Prittlewell now published


An Anglo-Saxon burial chamber found on a grassy verge next to a busy road and not far from an Aldi is being hailed as Britain’s equivalent of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Archaeologists last month revealed the results of years of research into the burial site of a rich, powerful Anglo-Saxon man found at Prittlewell in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. When it was first discovered in 2003, jaws dropped at how intact the chamber was. But it is only now, after years of painstaking investigation by more than 40 specialists, that a fuller picture of the extraordinary nature of the find is emerging. Sophie Jackson, director of research at Museum of London Archaeology (Mola), said it could be seen as a British equivalent to Tutankhamun’s tomb, although different in a number of ways. For one thing it is in free-draining soil, meaning everything organic has decayed. “It was essentially a sandpit with stains,” she said. But what a sandpit. “It was one of the most significant archaeological discoveries we’ve made in this country in the last 50 to 60 years.”


Objects from the Prittlewell princely burial will go on permanent display at the Southend Central Museum which is open to the public for free from Saturday 11th May 2020. The full research is now published in a MOLA Monograph: The Prittlewell princely burial Excavations at Priory Crescent, Southend on Sea, Essex 2003 (Price £35).


Artist’s reconstruction of how the grave would have looked with a bed, boxes full of gold items, swords, helmets and the usual regalia of a high born Saxon warrior

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WW2 fighter plane wreck called ‘Maid of Harlech’ is scheduled

Stephen Morris of the Guardian reports:


The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the Maid of Harlech, is sometimes visible in the sand. The skeletal remains of an American fighter plane that crashed during the Second World War off the Welsh coast, and occasionally emerge ghost-like from the seabed, have been given protected status.

Welsh government officials say the resting place of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the Maid of Harlech, is the first military aircraft crash site in the UK to be protected for its historic and archaeological interest. The fighter aircraft is buried around two metres below the seabed off the coast at Harlech in


Photograph: Joseph Mearman/SCSEE/Bangor University

north Wales. When sea and sand conditions are just right it becomes visible in the sand. Cadw, the Welsh government’s historic environment service, has given the plane scheduled status. It joins castles, abbeys and prehistoric sites as well as buildings and sites connected to the iron, coal and slate industries in Wales that are protected. The plane crashed in September 1942. It was flown by Second Lt Robert F Elliott, 24, of Rich Square, North Carolina, from Llanbedr on a gunnery practice mission but got into difficulties and had to crash land. The pilot walked away safely from the incident but was reported missing in action a few months later. The plane has been uncovered three times since it crashed – in the 1970s, in 2007 and most recently in 2014. There are no plans to salvage it.

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Archaeological Guide to Pompeii.

Rating: 5 stars



Author Paul Wilkinson and published by Taurus Books 1st Edition and Bloomsbury 2nd & 3rd Editions.


Pompeian pilgrims will be in good hands with Paul Wilkinson, an old Pompeian hand, archæologist, journalist, tour-leader and BBC documentary maker.
The index is serviceable, though somewhat choosy on no obvious principle, especially regarding the names of modern scholars. After a tersely helpful Timeline from antiquity to AD 1997, the Introduction and trio of chapters survey everyday life in Pompeii, plus detailed descriptions of the Amphitheatre Riot of AD 59 and the eruption itself, with full transcriptions of Pliny the Younger’s pair of autoptic accounts. These pages display how well Wilkinson knows his Pompeian onions. This book stands or falls with the archæological sites-guide that makes up its second part.


Here, Wilkinson is faultless. His diagrams are clear, the relevant information dispensed without fuss, with due acknowledgement to the many archæologists and epigraphers involved. All this written in clear, jargon-free English, nicely leavened with wit.
The Romans had Pompey the Great. In Wilkinson, we have a Great Pompeian.
Professor Barry Baldwin

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Underland a deep time journey.

Rating: 5 stars



Author Robert Macfarlane



Underland is, as its title suggests, “a book about burial and unburial and deep time”, “the awful darkness inside the world”, “of descents made in search of knowledge”, to study the places where “we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save”. If fear is a constant companion on such journeys, for the reader at home there are many pleasures, most notably the armchair exploration of a far more benign landscape: the interior of Macfarlane’s magnificently well-furnished mind. For the darkly tangled path this book takes through the labyrinth of history and memory, literature and landscape, high-flown prose and underworldly observation are illuminated by Macfarlane’s inventive way with language. At its best, this has an epic, incantatory quality. There is a rare gift at work here: chiselled prose of such beauty that it can, on occasion, illuminate the darkness below ground as startlingly as a Verey light sent up into the vaults of one of Macfarlane’s subterranean stalactite cathedrals.

Like WG Sebald, another teacher of literature, Macfarlane brings the full weight of his erudition to the table. He quotes a dazzling range of poets and novelists and great galaxies of writers on geology, archaeology, mythology, morphology and glaciology, as well as on nuclear science, “dark matter” physics and art history. We swing from the thoughts of Rainer Maria Rilke on the Orpheus myth to the latest discoveries about “hyphae” – “the superfine threads fungi send out through the soil” – then move from learned opinions on Neanderthal rock art dating from around 65,000BC to Sir Thomas Browne (a particularly Sebaldian moment) to HG Wells, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino and Cormac McCarthy.

Underland is, unquestionably, his magnum opus, a work that has taken him nearly 10 years to complete. Though darker than his earlier books, it is as rich as anything he has ever written, blessed with the scholarship of Sebald, the stylistic felicity of Bruce Chatwin and the vocabulary and syntax of Patrick LeighFermor. It contains the summation of his most important ideas. Nearly 40 years ago, the critic Paul Fussell wrote that with The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron had done for the travel book what James Joyce did for the novel with Ulysses. This is the flame that Macfarlane has now carried into a new century.
With Underland he has written one of the most ambitious works of narrative non-fiction of our age, a new Road to Oxiana for the dwindling twilight of the Anthropocene.

• Underland by Robert Macfarlane is published by
Hamish Hamilton (£14).

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Mudlarking: Lost and found on the River Thames.

Rating: 4 stars



Author: Lara Maiklem


Francis Wilson of the Guardian writes: Mudlarks are river scavengers, but Lara Maiklem is more like a time traveller. Using old maps as guides to London’s former boatyards, quaysides, bridges, causeways, jetties and great houses – all those places where the rubbish was once dumped – she scours the foreshore of the Thames looking for links to another life: Roman brooches, clay pipes, Victorian shoe buckles, Mesolithic flints. A vast and mobile archaeological site, the Thames is uniquely suited to mudlarks because it is tidal, which means that every day, as Maiklem explains, it grants access to its contents, “which shift and change as the water ebbs and flows, to reveal the story of a city, its people and their relationship with a natural force”.

Every drowned, unwanted or lost object is precious to Maiklem, who reveals, as she takes us downriver from Richmond to the Estuary, a preternatural sympathy for the broken, mud-caked and out of context. When, during one of her daybreak larking stints, she finds a body, “arms outstretched, her long hair spread out like a soft halo”, she feels not horror but fellowship: “I was the first to be with her after her final and most private moment.” A custodian of the past, Maiklem’s relation to the life of the river is personal rather than scientific. She sees the Thames as the home of her forebears and the medium of their messages. Alert to the ethics of ownership, she collects only those treasures that the museums reject, but engraved wedding rings are thrown back into the water: Maiklem does not want their sadness in her life.

Time was when mudlarking was the reserve of the destitute, but these days a mudlark permit is needed, for which you have to belong to the Society of Mudlarks (founded in the 1970s), and to be eligible to join the society you need to have already held a standard permit and reported your findings to the Museum of London for two years. Even then, you may not be given membership because the society “maintains a deliberate air of mystery and exclusivity”.

Maiklem divides mudlarks into hunters and gatherers. Hunters – usually men – are goal orientated and tend to employ metal detectors; the shoreline is “a battlefield” of “petty feuding, territorial disputes, jealousies, fierce competition and paranoia”. For gatherers, usually women, the search is as important as the find: mudlarking is meditation

• Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames is published by Bloomsbury (£18.99). To order a copy of all books go to guardianbookshop.com  or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

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The largest collection of King Tutankhamun's treasures ever to travel out of Egypt, in London this winter. Report by Will Noble

Over 150 original artefacts from the Golden Pharaoh's dazzling tomb go on display at Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery on 2 November. These include a gilded wooden bed, an ornate gilded shrine, Tutankhamun's lotusshaped wishing cup, and his gold inlaid canopic coffinette.
40 of the pieces have never left Egypt before, although King Tut's iconic death mask has previously been deemed too fragile to travel, and won't feature.
The boy king's bling tomb of treasures dates back 3,000 years, and was uncovered by London archeologist Howard Carter in 1922. The incredible find stirred up 'Egyptomania' in England, infusing the art and architecture of the Roaring Twenties with ancient Egyptian motifs. It's fitting that this show is in Kensington; that's where Carter was born, and where he died prematurely in 1939



Tutankhamun's treasures finally first went on display in London in 1972, at the British Museum, with 1.7 million people queuing for hours for a glimpse. The artefacts returned to the then-Millennium Dome in 2007, with the Guardian citing 'expensive' ticket prices, at around £15. The entry fee this time is £28.50 (full price adult, peak time) — a price that the King of Bling himself might balk at. Still this is now a once in a lifetime opportunity.


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Last supper in Pompeii at the Ashmolean, Oxford




Everything from the exquisite mosaics in the villas of the wealthy to the remains found in kitchen drains reveals what the people of Pompeii loved to eat and drink. The Ashmolean’s 2019 summer exhibition will tell the story of this ancient Roman town’s love affair with food.

When the ash from Mount Vesuvius began raining down on Pompeii in AD 79, people in the resort-town were engaged in typically Italian activities – eating, drinking and producing food. Located in the sunny paradise of southern Italy, Pompeii was sandwiched between lush vineyards and fertile orchards to one side and the bountiful waters of the Bay of Naples to the other. The town produced more wine, olive oil and fish-sauce than it could consume and exported its gourmet products across the Mediterranean.



Many of the objects, on loan from Naples and Pompeii, have never before left the country. They range from the luxury furnishings of the Roman dining room, to the carbonised food that was on the table when the volcano erupted.
Event date: Only to 12 Jan 2020
Event time: 10:00 - 17:00
Event cost: £12.25 standard

Book online here

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And now for something different for Christmas:
Beowulf in Kent by Paul Wilkinson


Gary Budden writes:

It’s a compelling thought; the monster Grendel inhabiting the bleak marshlands of the Isle of Harty (part of what we now call Sheppey), just over the water from the town of Faversham, separated from the mainland by The Swale. These islands tend to overfeed the imagination; lost tribes can dwell there, grisly remains, evolutionary dead ends, the sons of Cain.

Sheppey, and the other small islands that appear as odd unmarked blanks of green on Google Maps, hold dark histories. Deadmans Island and Burnt Wick Island, so close to home and practically unknown, are borderline inaccessible. They hold the mass graves of Napoleonic French prisoners who died on the prison hulks (you’ll know them from Great Expectations) and their bones now rise from the silt. Walk the Hollow Shore between Faversham and Whitstable, look out over to the island across the Swale, no one else around and the wind stinging the eyes. It’s easy to feel Anglo-Saxon in such a place.

More than anything we want the monsters to be there.

I remember looking at the Beowulf manuscript in the British Library for a long time the first time I saw it. It exerted a pull over me that beat any Chinese scroll or Lewis Carroll diary. I read the Heaney translation, discovered American writer John Gardner’s monster-perspective novel, Grendel, as part of the Fantasy Masterworks series (terrible cover). I even watched the film written by Neil Gaiman and with Ray Winstone as our founding English hero, getting entangled with a version of Grendel’s mother who was rather sexier than I’d always imagined.

When I started researching the areas of north east Kent where I grew up, especially the stretch of coast along the Thames estuary, I came across a curious piece of information on the Faversham website:

Nearly ten years ago Dr Paul Wilkinson, a Swale archaeologist, and Faversham journalist and business woman Griselda Mussett contributed a Faversham Paper which makes a strong, and believable, claimbased on topographical and oral and written folk history that the Beowulf legend had its origins among place names that were commonplace and are still to be seen around the Faversham area.

I tracked down the papers via the Faversham society and duly received them in the post. I felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole of crackpot theories and dubious speculation. If I’m honest, I wasn’t much interested in the truth of any of the theories. The story appealed. Ray Winstone’s cockney accent suddenly made a sort-of sense. Beowulf as the ex-Londoner moved out to the estuary.

Paul Wilkinson’s colour booklet, Beowulf on the Island of Harty in Kent proudly proclaims AS SEEN ON TV in its bottom right corner, and features the Sutton Hoo mask as its cover, which already seems to be muddying the issue. Near the beginning, he does concede what we’re really dealing with here is mythology, not archaeology or science:

Mythology, on the other hand, is concerned above all with what happened in the beginning. It’s signature is ‘Once upon a time’ and our English beginning could be a small island called Harty just off, but belonging to, the port of Faversham in Kent.

In this Kentish interpretation of the tale, Harty becomes Heorot (Hrothgar’s hall). Heorot sits at the heart of a large Lathe, or administrative area, the schrawynghop, an area ‘inhabited by one or several supernatural malignant beings’.


The theory even goes as to suggest that Beowulf was buried under Nagden mound (a possible artificial hill that was destroyed in 1953 by men contracted to rebuild the sea wall between Faversham and Seasalter, after the great North Sea flood.), though by this point the theory has fallen more into wishful thinking anda lot of ‘maybes’ rather than anything that could approximate a credible argument. In my fictional landscape, Grendel and his mother fit in well with the bodies of those dead Frenchman, the prisons across the water on Sheppey, the bleak marshes, the boxing hares and the black curlews of my own fictions.


I know these tidal flats and malignant bogs were dry land once, attached to the Doggerland landmass that connected what was to become Britain to the coasts of Germany and Denmark. My mind already is flowing with ideas, stories of the last remaining malignant supernatural beings that inhabited Doggerland making a last stand in the Kentish marshes. Wiped out by Ray Winstone. Grendel having his arm pulled from its socket on the demon marsh in the Thames estuary. A dragon banner flying above Faversham.

It’s a good idea for a story, right? Maybe that’s enough

For TV clip see: Beowulf in Kent - YouTube



And finally a free gift for Christmas! The world’s best way to learn Latin! (so some say)



https://www.duolingo.com/enroll/la/en/Learn-Latin

Many modern institutions, myths, and ways of understanding the world emerged from the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece. The body of work written in Latin is enormous, including history, philosophy, drama, biography, satire, every imaginable kind of poetry, and a cornucopia (another Latin word) of religious texts. This literature documents a long and vibrant history of debates over good governance and the way to live well. In addition, there is an abundance of Latin texts from daily life all around the Roman Empire: homework assignments, recipes, invitations, contracts, epitaphs, personal letters, and of course graffiti — and hundreds more of these everyday texts are discovered each year. You may not be able to use Latin to speak to anyone outside of the Vatican, but through Latin the past (and present) speaks to you: this language can be used to connect to a people who lived centuries ago, but whose concerns were very much like ours.


People talk about Latin being dead. Yet it’s living around us, in our daily lives — and learning it can actually enrich your own life. If you want to find out more, you can check out the website of our partners, the Paideia Institute,  who developed this course. Or you can jump right in and try Latin for yourself.

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The Kent Archaeological Field School Events for 2020 include:

We will be back in Oplontis in the first three weeks in May/June 2020 for another season of excavation but be quick as last year we were fully booked. And if you are booked the only criteria is that you are a member of the Kent Archaeological Field School www.kafs.co.uk  and that you have some experience or enthusiasm for Roman archaeology, Italian food and Italian sunshine! See also the website for the project at www.oplontisproject.org. Please note food, accommodation, insurance, and travel are not provided.


Flights to Naples are probably cheapest with EasyJet. To get to Pompeii take a bus from the Naples airport to the railway station and then the local train to Pompeii. Hotels are about 50eu for a room per night.
We are staying at are the Motel Villa dei Misteri and the Hotel degli Amici. info@villademisteri.it info@hoteldegliamici.it For camping the site Camping Zeus is next to the hotel: info@campingzeus.it and is about 12eu a night.

Transport to Oplontis from Pompeii is not provided but most of the group use the local train (one stop). Please note it can be hot so bring sun cream and insect repellent! Any queries email me at info@kafs.co.uk or in Naples call my mobile on 07885 700 112. We will meet up at 8am every Monday morning of the dig to start the new week. This may be the last year so grasp the opportunity! Places are limited.

Paul Wilkinson

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Courses at the Kent Archaeological Field School for 2020 will include:

Field Walking and Map Analysis May Bank Holiday Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th 2020 Field work at its most basic involves walking across the landscape recording features seen on the ground. On this weekend course we are concerned with recognising and recording artefacts found within the plough soil. These include flinttools, Roman building material, pottery, glass and metal artefacts. One of the uses of field walking is to build up a database for large-scale regional archaeological surveys. We will consider the importance of regressive map analysis as part of this procedure. The course will cover:

1. Strategies and procedures,
2. Standard and non-standard line walking, grid walking,
3. Pottery distribution, identifying pottery and building ceramics.

We will be in the field in the afternoons so suitable clothing will be necessary.
Cost £10 if membership is taken out at the time of booking. For non-members the cost will be £25.


Wye Roman Villa and Water mill: Friday 10th April to Sunday 19th April 2020

Archaeological excavation on the site of a recently discovered Roman Villa and water mill at Wye in Kent


On this ten day investigation we shall look at the ways in which archaeological sites are discovered and excavated and how different types of finds are studied to reveal the lives of former peoples. Subjects discussed will include aerial photography, regressive map analysis, HER data, and artefact identification. Within this investigation there is a five day course from Monday 13th April to Friday 17th April which will be especially useful for those new to archaeology, as well as those considering studying the subject further. After tea break we will participate in an archaeological investigation on a Roman building under expert tuition. Expert diggers are not required to participate in the tool box talks.


Training Week for Students on a Roman Water Mill at Wye in Kent It is essential that anyone thinking of digging on an archaeological site is trained in the procedures used in professional archaeology. Dr Paul Wilkinson, author of the bestselling "Archaeology" book and Director of the dig, will spend five days explaining to participants the methods used in modern archaeology. A typical training day will be classroom theory in the morning (at the Field School) followed by excavation at the Roman Water Mill at Wye.


Topics taught each day are:

Monday 13th April (Bank Holiday Monday). Why dig?
Tuesday 14th April: Excavation Techniques.
Wednesday 15th April: Site Survey.
Thursday 16th April: Archaeological Recording.
Friday 17th April: Small Finds.
Saturday and Sunday (free) digging with the team.


A free PDF copy of "Archaeology" 3rd Edition will be given to participants. Cost for the course is £100 if membership is taken out at the time of booking plus a Certificate of Attendance. The day starts at 10am and finishes at 4.00pm. For directions to the Field School see 'Where ' on the KAFS website.


Excavating at 'Villa B' at Oplontis next to Pompeii in Italy: 25th May to 19th June 2020


We will be spending four weeks in association with the University of Texas investigating the Roman Emporium (Villa B) at Oplontis adjacent to Villa A next to Pompeii. The site offers a unique opportunity to dig on iconic World Heritage Site in Italy and is a wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity.

The only criteria to book is that you are a member of the Kent Archaeological Field School www.kafs.co.uk  and that you have some experience or enthusiasm for Roman archaeology, Italian food and Italian sunshine! See also the website for the project at www.oplontisproject.org. Please note food, accommodation, insurance, and travel are not provided.

Flights to Naples are probably cheapest with EasyJet. To get to Pompeii take a bus from the Naples airport to the railway station and then the local train to Pompeii. Hotels are about 50eu for a room per night. We are staying at are the Motel Villa dei Misteri and the Hotel degli Amici. info@villademisteri.it info@hoteldegliamici.it For camping the site Camping Zeus is next to the hotel: info@campingzeus.it and is about 12eu a night.

Transport to Oplontis from Pompeii is not provided but most of the group use the local train (one stop). Any queries email me at info@kafs.co.uk or in Naples call my mobile on 07885 700 112. We will meet up at 8am every Monday morning of the dig to start the new week.

Paul Wilkinson


September 5th to 13th 2020. Investigation of Prehistoric features at Hollingbourne in Kent

An opportunity to participate in excavating and recording prehistoric features in the landscape. The week is to be spent in excavating Bronze and Iron Age features located with aerial photography and geophysical survey.



Starry starry night………….

The Roman city of Arelate, today known as Arles, France, was one of the most important ports of the later Roman Empire. After siding with Julius Caesar during his civil war against Pompey, the town was formally established as a Roman colony for Caesar’s veterans in 46 or 45 B.C. Strategically located along the Rhône River in southern Gaul, Arelate developed into such a major economic, political, and cultural center that it was referred to as the “little Rome of the Gauls” by the fourth-century poet Ausonius.


Today, the city’s left bank, which served as the Roman settlement’s civic and administrative heart, is strewn with the remnants of ancient monuments: a theatre, an amphitheatre, baths, and a circus. It has long been thought that the city’s right bank was far less developed in the early Roman period, only witnessing significant growth decades or centuries later. However, this perception of ancient Arles is beginning to change as an ongoing investigation uncovers parts of a wealthy Roman residential area, providing new evidence of the early development of Arles’ periphery and also revealing some of the finest Roman wall paintings found anywhere in France.




The Kent Archaeological Field School is planning to take a group of KAFS members by train from Ashford in Kent down to Arles and staying at a medieval hotel in the centre of Arles with day trips to Nimes, Pont du Gard, the Roman city of Glanum and lots lots more. To register your interest email info@kafs.co.uk for further detais. Price of the trip will be at cost.

Merry Christmas
from all at KAFS!




For all booking enquiries email  info@kafs.co.uk 

The Kent Archaeological Field School.

The Office, School Farm Oast,

Graveney Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8UP

Tel: 01795 532548 Email:  info@kafs.co.uk 

Director Dr Paul Wilkinson FRSA MCIfA



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