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Roman remains discovered near A2 in Newington, near Sittingbourne

By Ellis Stephenson

Remains of one of the most significant small Roman towns in Kent have been found on a building site with a temple and evidence of a pottery.

Experts have uncovered the 18-acre town on land destined for houses, which are being built by developer Persimmon Homes, next to the A2 in Newington, near Sittingbourne.

Archaeologists said it is one of the most significant finds. Among it were rare coins, jewellery, furnaces and a seven-metre wide road thought to be an alternative route to the A2.

Archaeologists uncover lost ancient settlement near Sittingbourne

Chairman of Newington History Group, Dean Coles, said: "This is very exciting. The scale of this site, with the huge number and quality of finds, changes our knowledge of Newington's development.

"We already had evidence of a Roman burial ground and Roman occupation in the immediate vicinity and this excavation shows there was a thriving manufacturing site in the heart of our village.

"The temple and major road are massive discoveries.

"It proves the A2 wasn't the only Roman road through the village.

The outline in the ground of the Roman temple in Newington, near Sittingbourne
The outline in the ground of the Roman temple in Newington, near Sittingbourne

"As a group, we are keen to trace the route and destination of this new 'highway' which may have connected with another temple excavated 50 years ago on the outskirts of Newington and a villa unearthed in 1882."

The temple, which has been called Watling Temple, is one of only 150 sites recorded in England.

Archaeological director at Swale and Thames Archaeological Survey, Dr Paul Wilkinson, said: "This is one of the most important discoveries of a Roman small town in Kent for many years with the preservation of Roman buildings and artefacts exceptional."

Examples of sunken pottery kilns from the late Iron Age-Roman period.

Some of the pots found during the excavation of the site in Newington, near Sittingbourne
Some of the pots found during the excavation of the site in Newington, near Sittingbourne

Archaeology project manager, Peter Cichy, said: "This is one of the most significant sites in Kent but it's only the beginning of months and months of work.

"We will be analysing and dating our finds, sorting and piecing together thousands of pottery shards and writing up our report."

The findings will eventually be published as the remains are covered over once again by the 124-home estate, which will be called Watling Place.

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