Published: 11:25, 16 August 2021
| Updated: 11:43, 16 August 2021
A three-week archaeological dig is underway in Dover’s Market Square ahead of a major revamp this autumn.
This will see a new performance space, water feature and improved public realm created as a focal point for the local community and visitors to the town centre.
Canterbury Archaeological Trust is leading the dig in an area of the town that is already known to contain rich seams of ancient local history.
The work at Market Square began last week and townsfolk will be able to watch the archaeologists at their task and learn about any finds from the Dover Museum and Visitor Information Centre in the square.
Dover District Council is managing the project on behalf of the Dover Town Team which secured a grant of £2.44 million from the Coastal Communities Fund. Project partners also include Dover Town Council and Kent County Council.
The aim of the project is to attract more people to visit and shop in Dover by making the Market Square more welcoming for local residents and creating a focal point for visitors to the town centre.
The overriding concept is the creation of a paved pedestrian space where people can gather and interact, socialise, and take in the views out of the Square to Dover Castle. It also provides the flexibility for events to be held.
A misting water feature located in the centre of the square will create a focus for children to play and families to congregate.
New lighting will give the Market Square a different feel at night time, and new trees will be planted.
Seating and terracing will provide places for people to congregate and pedestrian footways around the Market Square will be widened to improve opportunities for café culture and alfresco dining.
John Angell, Chairman of the Dover Town Team, said: “We’re looking forward to work on the project starting in earnest in the autumn and building a strong future for the Market Square as a focal point from which to explore the town centre.
“As we recover from the pandemic, supporting your local town centre has never been more important. The revamp of the Market Square is one of a number of projects that are creating new reasons to visit Dover town centre.”
Keith Parfitt of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, said: “We’re excited to be working on another site of such historic interest in Dover.
"The Market Square has been a place for people to gather for centuries, so I’m sure we’ll find some interesting artefacts that we’ll be sharing with Dover Museum.”
Last month Kent County Council's archaeological department had stressed how potentially rich the area is in relics.
This was when it commented on the planned replacement of the former Club Karma nightspot with flats a few hundred yards away.
There have already been finds of flints and pottery from the end of the Stone age in Market Square.
The town's Bronze Age boat as found in nearby Townwall Street in 1992 and Anglo Saxon buildings and halls were discovered during excavation at Dover Discovery Centre.