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New dig to unearth ancient Dover

The largest archaeological excavation in Dover for twenty years is due to begin soon.  A team from Canterbury Archaeological Trust will start digging off Woolcomber Street in June ahead of the long planned town centre redevelopment.

Working on behalf of Bond City Ltd, this latest dig represents an exciting new stage in the continuing investigation of the ancient town, which has previously revealed such internationally important finds as the Roman Painted House and the Bronze Age Boat dating to 1550 BC. 

The excavation off Woolcomber Street will focus on medieval and later Dover.  Before the Second World War, this area of the town had been densely packed with streets and houses, along with the grand Burlington Hotel, but these were all swept away during the post-War years.  The archaeologists are hoping to reveal portions of several long-lost streets and their associated buildings, including parts of Clarence Street, St James’s Street and Arthur’s Place. 

Local archaeologist Keith Parfitt, leading the team, said: "We don’t know exactly when these old Dover streets were first laid out; there is a suggestion that St James’s Street originated before the Norman Conquest.  When we excavated on the adjacent BP filling station site in 1996, it was established that parts of Clarence Street there had first been created around 1250, with its course hardly changing over the next six hundred years."   

The archaeologists will also be looking for evidence of the fourteenth century town wall with its associated East Brook Gate, which is believed to once have spanned Woolcomber Street.  "Although we found quite a bit of the town wall during the construction of the new A20 in 1992, we have never seen anything of it east of the river," said Mr Parfitt.

The eastern side of Dover, below Castle Hill around the Norman church of St James was the fishermen’s quarter of the old town.  "During the thirteenth century lots of simple timber houses were crowded onto the beach ridge in this area.  The shore-line then was probably between the Townwall Street and the Gateway flats," added Mr Parfitt.

It is planned that the Woolcomber Street excavations will be able to be viewed by the public.

Issued by Bond City Ltd. 

Posted on 21/05/2015