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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Towns - Page 89

    (4.) Sometime before 1844, ‘on lowering the point where Park Place now stands about 7 ft. for building,’ stone foundations between 7 ft. and 4 ft. thick and ‘various small diaper foundations as if they had been cells’ were observed. ‘One floor of plaster was firm as stone until exposed to the air, when it became soft as ashes. On this lay a coin of Agrippa, about the size of a pennypiece. In the above cells were many broken urns, of very rude workmanship and various forms.’ Green-glazed pottery was also found, and in the vicinity a silver crucifix. From the evidence it is impossible to be certain that the foundations were Roman.53
   (5) Roman foundations have been observed on either side of the public footpath—opposite the Powder Mills, nearly ¾ mile south of Dartford, in the Darent valley.53a
   Two Roman cemeteries have been found in the vicinity of the town. Rather more than a mile to the northward, at Joyce Green, gravel pits near the road from Dartford to the Marshes have yielded Roman urn burials.54  On the eastern side of the town, opposite an old graveyard on East Hill, a Roman inhumation cemetery has been brought to light at various times since 1792. Apart from numerous skeletons laid east to west, but not otherwise particularized, several coffins of definitely Roman date are recorded from here. One, found about 1797, had its lid fastened down with iron cramps; and, in accordance with a common Roman custom, it contained lime or plaster which had to some extent preserved the contents. ‘When the coffin was first opened the face, though of a dark mahogany colour, exhibited all the lineaments of the deceased, but, upon the nose being touched by a person named Watson, it trembled for an instant, then fell to dust.’ Another stone coffin contained a well-preserved female skeleton. ‘When the coffin was first opened the hair appeared a light brown colour, apparently clubbed on the crown of the head, and fastened with a brooch or bandeau of pearls; but in a few moments the whole fell to dust. . . . The body had been swathed in linen, some of which was visible and covered with cement (i.e. lime). A coating of gum strongly adhered to the larger bones, which retained an aromatic smell, and in the coffin was found a copper coin of Constantinopolis in good preservation.’ Other burials, orientated from north to south, had originally been contained in wooden coffins, and were in two cases associated with vessels of glass and pottery.55
   Lesser Roman finds from the Dartford area need not here be specified. They add little to the picture, but their wide distribution indicates that this typical Roman site—the spot where a main road crossed a pleasant river-valley—became, like Springhead, a local focus of population. Again like Springhead, its occupation probably synchronized with the greater part of the occupation of the island. The few coins recorded from the district represent Vespasian, Trajan, Faustina, Lucilla, Gordian, Postumus, Diocletian, Maximian, and four or five of Constantine I.
   53  J. Dunk in, Hut, and Antiq, of Dartford, 1844.
   53a   Arch. Cant. xxii, 50; and O.S. map, 6 in., 9 n.w. For kiln at Swanscombe Hill, see Industries,
                 P. 131; for a building there, see p. 125 ; for burials at Stone, see Top. Index, p. 168.
   54  Arch. Cant. xxii, lii.
   55  Dunkin, op. cit. pp. 91 ff.

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