Acres Field, Murston. The coffin was
afterwards melted down and used for sealing up the gas-mains
of Sittingbourne (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 43 ; C. R.
Smith, Coll. Ant. vii, 190).
(7) South-east of this site and 250 yds. west of Tonge
Vicarage, a number of vessels associated with ‘burnt bones
were found and largely destroyed by clay-diggers. Some at
least of the pottery which included a crater (form ii) alleged
to be of Arretine, but possibly rather of South Gaulish
fabric, dates from the earliest years of the Roman occupation
(see Antiq. Journ. vi, 309, Journ. R. Studies, xiv,
(8) Rather more than a mile to the east of
Sittingbourne, adjoining the highway, a few Roman graves
mostly of the 1st century A.D. have been found at Bapchild.
Pottery, probably from a grave group, found in 1929, included
a small green-glazed jug of St. Remy ware and of mid 1st
century ‘date (in Rochester Museum) (P1. XV, no.1). Earlier
discoveries occurred mostly at Batfield within the parish.
Coins reputed to have been found here include those of
Faustina II, Gallienus, Tetricus, Maximianus, Constantine I,
and Arcadius. Roach Smith noticed fragments of Roman tiles
here about and to the eastward at the foot of Radfield Hill
coins and potsherds are described as being constantly turned
up (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 88).
(9) Lastly, nearly one mile west of
Sittingbourne, where the parish of Borden impinges upon the Watling
Street at the site of the former turnpike gate-house, yet
another cemetery has come. to light. It lay to the south of
the road and had, in part at least, been inclosed within a
stone boundary wall, fragments of which (‘a rotten flint
wall running east and west, and turning at right angles to the
road at each of its extremities‘) were found about 1882.
Within the inclosure was the base of a circular ‘tower ‘
11½ ft. in diameter, doubtless the foundation of a monumental
tomb; it was built of flint rubble with walls 5½ ft.
thick, and upon the floor was a ‘ shallow tank, 7 ft. square
and one foot deep, paved with Roman tiles.’ Between the
tower and the road three skeletons and much debris were
encountered. Other interments included an urn-buria1, a second
cremation-burial in a circular leaden cist and a leaden
coffin, elaborately decorated with cable-pattern. This coffin
was 4½ ft.. long and lay at a depth of 7 ft. with the head
towards the west. It contained the remains of a child about
six years old, accompanied by armlets of jet and gold and a
gold finger-ring of late 3rd- or 4th-century type. Outside the
coffin, at the foot, was a vase of Castor ware, whilst at the
head was an earthenware jug and ‘a cup of fine, white,
transparent glass ornamented with round lozenges, similar to a
tall modern ale glass ‘ (G. Payne, Coll. Cant. 54 ;
C. R. Smith, Coll. Ant. vii, 186; for the type of
vessel, see J. Ward, The Roman Fort of Gellypaer, Fig.16).
For similar walled cemeteries see under Springhead, p. 91,
East Barming, p. 145, Lockham, pp. 144, 158, and Keston, p.
119). In the Dover Museum are many objects from Sittingbourne,
including coarse pottery, two Samian saucers stamped SVOBNIM
and REGINVS.F, an Upchurch
saucer imitating a Samian shape, complete with bogus stamp, a
huge urn, bits of bronze, a spur (? Roman) and glass beads.
An obviously Roman road points
southwards from Rochester to the great easterly bend in the
Medway at Maidstone. At such a point a local concentration of
the Romano-British population was almost inevitable. As so
often the case in Kent, the traces of this population, though
abundant enough, do not carry us far towards a reconstruction
of the Roman settlement. A road (see p.138), two rather widely
separated stone buildings, a considerable number of burials,
and many stray discoveries of potsherds and other relics form
the sum total of the material at present available. They are
just sufficient to suggest that Roman Maidstone, again like
other minor Kentish settlements, consisted of small nucleus of
moderately prosperous farmers settled amidst or adjoining a
considerable peasant population quartered in hutments that
have left not a wrack behind. Let us emphasize this point. In
our notes we must remember throughout that, in speaking of
Roman Maidstone, we are isolating somewhat arbitrarily a unit
which in Roman times may have had no real corporate entity.
All along the Medway valley, at least as far south as Teston,88
nearly 4 miles above Maidstone, are remains of Roman
‘villas‘ and cemeteries and other evidences of Roman
occupation. Amongst these, Maidstone has no more than
88 See Villas and
Topographical Index under Allington, Boxley, East Farleigh,
East Barming, Teston, etc.