The Archaeology of East Wear Bay

The earliest evidence that humans were present on the cliffs above East Wear Bay dates back as far as the Upper Palaeolithic (c.10,000 BC) with a flint blade found at the end of the 2016 season.

 Mesolithic (c.8,300-3,500 BC): We have a collection of flint microliths and blades from this period, which implies that people were hunting and fishing in the area. 

Neolithic (c.3,500-2,150 BC): We have yet to find structures dating to the Neolithic but we do have pottery sherds and flint tools, suggesting that there was a settlement in the immediate area.

Bronze Age (c.2,150-800 BC): The Bronze Age is represented at the site by metalwork and pottery. A number of undated post-holes may be evidence of Bronze Age structures, although further analysis needs to be done to confirm this.

Roman Villa excavation
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Postcard of the Excavation of Folkestone Roman Villa (1) A3 copy h
The site in 2016
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Iron Age (800 BC- AD 43): Occupation appears to have continued at East Wear Bay throughout the early and middle Iron Age. Our recent excavations have established that from the 2nd century BC the site flourished as a major coastal trading and production settlement. From c.50BC onwards the evidence suggests that the site was one of the major points of contact between Britain and the Roman world. Manufacture of rotary quern stones, made from the local Greensand stone took place on an industrial scale during the 1st centuries BC and AD. Finished querns from this site have been found across Kent, the Lower Thames area and East Anglia.  

This site is believed to be the only Iron Age quern factory to have been excavated in North-Western Europe.


Roman (AD 43-410): In approximately AD 100 a large Roman Villa was constructed on the site. The presence of roof tiles stamped by the 'Classis Britannica' (the Roman fleet in British waters), suggests that the building was linked to this unit. This first villa was demolished in the late 2nd century, possibly because the foundations were too shallow for the shifting ground, and a bigger structure was built with deeper foundations.

The villa was abandoned in the late 3rd century, and was reoccupied in the 4th century, although it may have been in a semi-derelict state. The villa is finally abandoned by the early 5th century.

Anglo-Saxon (AD 410-1066): A cemetery dating to the 6th and 7th centuries AD overlooks the site from Dover Hill, although no evidence of occupation during the early Anglo-Saxon period has been found at East Wear Bay. By the mid-7th century a monastic site had been established by St Eanswythe on Folkestone's west cliff, forming the focus for the later town. However, our excavations have recovered pottery and a coin of Alfred the Great dating to the 9th century AD, implying some people had re-occupied the site at this time.

This is the last significant archaeological evidence found on the site to date.


Coin dating from AD66-68
Excavations in 2016
Iron Age quern working area
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Penannular Brooch
Roman Villa in the 1920s
Taken in the 1920s, this is the only aerial photograph of the villa entirely uncovered. It is one of the first ever taken of an archaeological site.
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All drone shots credited to John Stevens

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Canterbury Archaeological Trust

92a Broad Street 



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