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Exciting finds at city's Big Dig

AMAZING finds have been unearthed in the past few days at the Big Dig in Canterbury where about 60 archaeologists are unravelling 2,000 years of the city's history.

They include two Roman bodies, rare stained glass and even rarer medieval parchment.

Project manager and archaeologist Mark Houliston said: "The scale of the dig in Canterbury is unprecedented for a town and we are finding quality objects, as well as the remains of streets and buildings."

Canterbury Cathedral archives department has dated the parchment as 14-15th century. It is a fragment from a book and was unearthed in a pit which contained 16th century pottery.

"The fact that such a fragile thing survived at all is amazing," said Mr Houliston. "We have also found a small piece of fabric. There was nothing special about the pit in which they were found and at first we did not really believe they could be that old, perhaps just about 200 years.

"We think that the book may have been thrown out, along with the pottery, when the Friary was dissolved by Henry Vlll and the buildings were cleared out and destroyed."

The parchment, which is written in Latin with Roman numerals in red, has been stabilised and is being kept in a dry atmosphere before further work can be carried out.

Alison Hicks, Mr Houliston's fellow archaeologist and project manager, said: "We should be able to see what type of book it came from which could be fascinating, especially if it's from the Friary which was on the site. We never expected to find this."

The stained glass, also medieval, was found in another pit, closer to the Friary and within its boundary. The fragment shows faces and hands of figures and because it is in such good condition it is a rare find.

The Roman burial is of an adult and a child aged about 15. Both are wearing bracelets and more details will be released once they have been studied.

Another exciting find was a hoard of around 700 bronze Roman coins, spanning the 1st to late 4th century, found in a third pit.

Mr Houliston said they would have been worthless in their time and it is believe they may have been gathered to be smelted down again.

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