Ancient Roman Temple Unearthed Below Kent Building Site

Ancient Roman Temple Unearthed Below Kent Building Site

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Ancient Roman Temple Unearthed Below Kent Building Site

Historians in Kent have vowed to painstakingly restore a 2,000-year-old temple to prevent it from being demolished by developers.

Few months after archaeologists discovered the Romano-Celtic temple in April, it was scheduled to be reburied.

Foundations of the inner temple discovered by archaeologists under a building site

When developers found the abandoned town in Newington, Kent, they were planning a plot of land next to the main road for a housing project.

It was inhabited by Romans when they arrived in Britain in 43AD but it is thought to pre-date this.

A 2000 year old coin was among the items discovered at the site

The 18-acre site was in exceptional condition and has been hailed as one of the most significant finds in regional archaeological history.

The temple at the site, close to what is now the A2, has since been named Watling Temple – making it one of only 150 such sites in England.

Archaeologists also uncovered an ancient 23 foot (7 metre) wide road which ran from London to the Kent coast.

Rare coins, several tons of pots and jewellery dating back as early as 30BC were found at the Persimmon Homes development which sits next to a major road near Sittingbourne.

A Roman pot was also found on the site

Ancient stones were lifted and placed into storage a few days ago after Newington History Group (NHG) asked to re-site the flint remains in the village.

The group sought permission from Kent County Council archaeologists and experts at Swale and Thames Archeological Survey who excavated the foundations in April.

Dean Coles, chairman of NHG, said: ‘We’re excited and proud to have obtained Watling Place Temple for the village.

An Iron age smelting kiln was also unearthed

‘When news of the finds became public, villagers were upset at the thought of them being buried again.

‘We looked at how we could save the temple, recognising its unique and immense historic value to the village.’

He added: ‘Now the temple will be a physical reminder of Newington’s long and fascinating heritage.’

It is hoped the temple will become a focal point in Newington and illustrate how the village developed as a Roman town.

A flint lined well at the site of the ancient temple

Dr Paul Wilkinson, director of SWAT Archaeology, said the discovery strengthens the likelihood that Newington could be being the long-lost Roman town of Durooevum, often thought to have been near Faversham.

He said: ‘The industry, residential quarter and temple tell us that Newington could be Durolevum.

‘It is wonderful that part of our Roman heritage is to be rescued and preserved by the efforts of the local community.’

The rarity of Roman temples in England, with only some 150 recorded sites, means that all Romano-Celtic temples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance.

The first exhibition of the excavations will be unveiled to the public on September 14 and 15 at NHG’s Newington Uncovered as part of the National Heritage Open Days event.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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