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Key part of Folkestone's past is revealed through quern stones

By Vicky Castle

Archaeologists in Folkestone have discovered a stone works from the Iron Age that could explain where the town gets its name from.

A team of volunteers who have been digging at East Cliff uncovered dozens of half-finished quern stones, which were used for grinding corn and flour around 2,000 years ago.

Andrew Richardson, outreach manager at Canterbury Archaeological Trust, said the team believe it means the site was originally part of a stone works.

Visitors Amanda and Donald Daniel look at some Quern stones over 2000 years old found
Visitors Amanda and Donald Daniel look at some Quern stones over 2000 years old found

He said this could be where the name Folkestone originated.

The excavation site is that of a Roman villa, but Mr Richardson said the Iron Age quern stones are more interesting.

He said: “There are dozens of them lying about half-finished, so we believe this place made them, it was a factory for them.

“The quern-stone industry and everything that goes with it is from the first century BC and the first century AD, and the Roman villa is from around 100AD.

"The quern-stone industry and everything that goes with it is from the first century BC and the first century AD, and the Roman villa is from around 100AD" - Andrew Richardson

“When the villa was built, I suspect they did not want it next door to a stone-working industry. So I think it probably came to an end then.”

The excavation is a training collaboration between the Folkestone Research and Archaeology Group and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

Students from Folkestone, France and as far afield as Texas, USA, have been taking part in the East Wear Bay Archaeological Project.

Local learners have been funded by the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.

Mr Richardson said: “We are trying to work our way along the cliff top because this is a site with active erosion and if we do not dig it all then it will disappear on to the beach and we’ll never make sense of it."

For more information visit www.canterburytrust.co.uk

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