Author Topic: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings  (Read 937 times)

Offline Longpockets

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2021, 02:21:40 PM »
ALL SAINTS CHURCH, High St., Snodland

Exactly when the first church was built in Snodland we cannot say. St. Augustine landed in Kent in 597 A.D. and the church at Rochester was built in 604. Before long it is likely that other churches sprang up in the valley near-by, perhaps including one at Snodland. Any such building would have been flimsy and just as likely as the rest of the village to have been razed to the ground more than once as early invaders sailed up the Medway. Surviving Anglo-Saxon churches show that the tradition of entering the building from the south side, as at All Saints, dates from before the Norman Conquest. Certainly there is documentary evidence of a church here by 1000 A.D.

When All Saints was first built in stone, the workmen had some useful materials close at hand from the abandoned Roman Villa a few yards to the north. Some Roman tiles and ‘tufa’ can still be seen in the older walls of the present building. We can suppose that around 1100 All Saints looked very like the other two early Norman churches of the parish, Paddlesworth and Dode, although with thatch on the roof rather than the present tiles.

.........
It seems likely that the present nave occupies the space of the original church building. The central area of the west wall is perhaps the only part of that earliest stone building to survive, but maybe the chancel also dates from this time. Significantly these are the only parts of the walls which include the Roman material. .........


Source - https://www.snodlandhistory.org.uk/local-history/churches/





Offline MartinR

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2021, 10:19:23 AM »
Unfortunately the official listing (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1060969) says "Interior: not inspected".  In passing, it has a very early bell: 1430.  There are now only two bells (the other is from 1700), an earlier treble from 1639 having been sold prior to the building of the present tower in 1865.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2021, 09:34:06 AM »
Wychling church seems to have not only Roman tiles in the walls, but roman bricks and tufa as well. Seeing a claim that it has a part roman style tiled floor.


Curiously it is separated a little distance from the actual houses of the village, by a large field.


I wonder if this could be a contender for a re-used Roman structure? In the photo I was seeing more tiles further down the wall than higher up (?). This lead me to presume that they would have used nearby materials early on the the church construction?

Offline CAT

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2021, 08:41:32 AM »
The reuse of Roman tiles is not surprising, though as you say johnfilmer, where have they come from? I was unaware of Wychling Church, so will have a look next time its possible.


The finding of Roman material in a church that dates from at least the early Norman period is a good indicator for a Roman building being in the near vicinity, but as yet undiscovered. Another very good example is the church at Lower Halstow, where an abundance of reused Roman building material can be seen. This includes not only Roman tiles, but also solid lumps of Opus Signinum (pink Roman mortar) as well as other possible Roman building material (Tufa). It is assumed these came from a Roman building that previously stood to the west of the church, but was largely removed during the later quarrying of the Brickearth clay for brick making in the eighteenth - nineteenth century.

Online johnfilmer

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2021, 11:17:50 AM »
I have reused this photo of Wychling Church on Guess the Place, and if you enlarge the image the red Roman tiles/bricks are clearly visible in the end (east) wall.
As I said before, the real mystery is where they came from as no local source is known.
Although much mucked about by the Victorians, though putting in a proper floor rather than the earth that was still there may rate slightly higher, it is still a lovely little church, which soon, I hope, will once again be welcoming visitors.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline CAT

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2021, 12:50:07 PM »
It might not come up anymore as the building is no longer Waterstones, but C & H Fabrics.


With the address of 12 to 15 St Margaret's Street, Canterbury, the remains you remember formed part of the Roman public bathhouse, which not only underlies this building, but also extends beneath the footprint of the former St Margaret's Church on the opposite side of the street. Previously known as 'The Canterbury Tales' experience centre, this has closed and the church is now empty.


One of my first excavations was being part of the team in the basement of this building and beneath the floor of the church uncovering the bath house remains in 1987. This was when both buildings were being converted, one from Martin's Department Store into Waterstones bookshop, the other from a redundant church into the experience centre. Sadly, all that was put on display, in a small cubby-hole room in the basement of Waterstones was only a small part of the entire remains, most of which was sealed by new concrete floors. Beneath the floor of the church, further remains of the baths was encountered between the brick burial vaults, all of which were covered with sand the a new floor installed.

Offline DaveTheTrain

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2021, 08:49:47 PM »
I have a recollection that there is a piece of ancient wall in Waterstones Bookshop in Canterbury.  I have spent some googling it but it does not come up.  Perhaps other members may be wiser.  John Walker may know more.
DTT

Offline CAT

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2021, 04:31:17 PM »
I can't think of any immediately, but will think on it. In rural areas, the existence of a Roman masonry building to our ancestors was a bit of a god send as it meant that you didn't have to go and buy new stone for building, but helped yourself to this readily available pile. This action occurred since at least straight after the Romans left in the fifth century AD as can be seen in the numerous buildings containing reused Roman tiles, masonry stones and even large lumps of Roman pink mortar (opus signum). This especially occurred during the later Anglo-Saxon period during the construction of churches, many of which possess reused stone and tile.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2021, 03:32:27 PM »
I was thinking of buildings/parts/walls that are effectively still there in use today. Parts of a pub wall or houses? Anything other than the large known structures like castles, roads or town foundations.

Offline CAT

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2021, 02:51:00 PM »
That's my point about the wear 'n' tear that should be on the Rochester stone surface, but isn't. I would hold my hands up and concede if stone slabs/blocks were common across the Roman Empire, but they used the materials at hand, namely flint gravel. I too have seen fantastic paved Roman roads around the Mediterranean, especially in Lebanon, where the stone is easily available. Unfortunately, just not in this part of former 'Britannia'.


Cosmo Smallpiece, there are dozens of masonry 'villa' type structures dotted across the Kent landscape, but what would you call farm out-buildings? A large number of these structures are known either from aerial photographs, antiquarian quarrying/agricultural practices with numerous Roman structures being encountered during more recent construction and infrastructure projects. Lets remember that for every masonry 'villa' farmstead we know of, there will be dozens more timber farmsteads that we don't.           

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2021, 02:35:12 PM »
I've seen the original Roman roads in Pompeii, which are presumably preserved now in the conditions in which they were used. Notable in the hard wearing cobbled Road surface there are the deep ruts caused by the constant wear of passing wagon wheels. I don't see that in these soft limestone blocks.


CAT, do you know of any small-scale surviving buildings, farm out-buildings or walls of interest out there in the Kent countryside?

Offline CAT

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2021, 10:06:07 AM »
Though not wanting to be a 'party-pooper', but I wonder if this is a good place to put this modern piece of folklore to bed?


Lets look at the facts about it being a portion of Roman Watling Street.


The portion of supposed road was uncovered by a builder lowering the floor of the cellar of 48 High Street to make the basement into a more useable room. At no point during this scheme was an archaeologist, or a heritage professional, engaged to monitor the works, and thus no formal report has been produced. Because of this, no formal proof of stratigraphic sequencing, or dating (coins, pottery etc.) been produced to verify its authenticity. Constructed of roughly ashlar limestone blocks, some of which still possess evidence of diagonal tooling on their exposed upper face (the walking surface?). However, the local and national press have reported it as being a portion of Roman Watling Street, all of which is being absorbed by the general populace as a fact.


Lets look at the facts against it being part of Roman Watling Street.


Either side of the basement at 48 High Street, two formal archaeological excavations did encounter what has been interpreted as parts of Roman Watling Street, where the upper surface of a typical Roman road was revealed, but at a greater depth than that exposed in the basement of 48 High Street. In these two separate excavations, located at 49 and 54 High Street, the road consisted of the uppermost surface to a sequence of highly compacted, mainly laminated flint gravel with thin spreads of crushed chalk and silt between, all of which possessed dateable material including it fitting in with a surrounding stratigraphic sequence of Roman archaeology sealed by later deposits. Having worked on many Roman roads across Kent, this method of road construction conforms with that repeatedly seen, especially when passing through towns (Canterbury, Dover, Rochester, even London). As far as I am aware, unlike places were good quality stone is available (Yorkshire, Cotswolds etc.) this is a typical method of road construction with successive stone gravel road surfaces laid over previous worn-out surfaces, each possessing layers of trampled mud and silt encased between the gravel surfaces. 


Is it possible that the stone blocks are Roman? There is every possibility they are and have been salvaged at a later date from an adjacent structure.
Do they make a surface to Roman Watling Street? Unlikely, as they are above the level of the road surfaces encountered either side of 48 High Street and the surviving stone tooling, as well as the blocks themselves, would have been heavily worn due to the amount of cart, animal and foot traffic over a prolonged period of time.


So what is exposed in the basement of 48 High Street, Rochester and so poorly interpreted and reported? In my opinion, what is exposed in a very expensive display case is a portion of the period building's basement floor, itself formed from possibly reused/salvaged Roman (or later) stone blocks. 


Offline shoot999

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2021, 12:12:19 PM »
Think this maybe the 'road' in Rochester High Street that Stewie mention




Offline Stewie

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2021, 11:45:52 AM »

It just doesn't make sense that later generations would not have continued to use those sturdy Roman buildings. Or perhaps they were shunned and torn down? I don't know.


I believe that the incoming Saxon peoples tended to avoid them as they thought that they were possessed by spirits. Though both the Saxons & Vikings tried to maintain defensive structures with wooden stockades and such, (built by the Norman influenced Edward the Confessor, Westminster Hall in London was an exception). These peoples did not tend to build in large structures in stone so merely tried to patch up what they had inherited. It is not until the Normans come that large scale building in stone in England resumed, usually cathedrals and castles to overawe the native population though the original Motte & Bailey castles would have been wooden stockades initially.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Surviving Roman features in more modern Kent buildings
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2021, 11:35:47 AM »
Those tile/bricks banded in layers of stone are iconic Roman styling aren't they?


It just doesn't make sense that later generations would not have continued to use those sturdy Roman buildings. Or perhaps they were shunned and torn down? I don't know.