It would have been a very expensive toy, expertly crafted and imported across the Channel – and archaeologists say it provides a glimpse of the luxurious life of Anglo-Saxon nobles in 7th-century Kent.
The little gaming piece is the only one discovered at an Anglo-Saxon habitation site, although many cruder examples have been found in graves. It is the first piece of such quality found since the excavation of a princely grave in Buckinghamshire in the 1880s.
"This piece comes from a high-end – Harrods – backgammon set," the Reading University archaeologist Gabor Thomas said. "Not only high-end but quite possibly Italian – Ferrari – high-end, as the best parallels outside England are from the 6th-century Lombard kingdom. Read more.
An archaeological mystery that has eluded experts in Kent for 140 years has finally been solved following the rediscovery of the site of a Roman villa.
The remains of a bath house were first unearthed in hop gardens on the banks of the River Medway at Teston in 1872, but after some excavations it was covered over until 1972, when archaeologists reinvestigated the site but failed to locate any trace of ancient remains.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1991 during the emergency renewal of a sewer, Southern Water uncovered Roman building materials and pottery, with archaeologists subsequently revealing the remains of a Roman masonry building. Read more.
A medieval jail and dungeon has been unearthed by workers installing a new water main in a market town in Kent.
The discovery in Middle Row, Faversham, by South East Water workers was confirmed by archaeologists.
A thick curved wall dates back to the 14th Century and the site’s use as a jail has been backed up by historical records and old maps.
Archaeologist Tim Allen, from Kent Archaeological Projects, said the “rare discovery” would be documented.
It will then be filled back in as work continues. (source)
Remains of a huge, 2,000-year-old Roman theatre, thought to be the first of its kind in Britain, have been discovered in Kent.
Paul Wilkinson, director of the nearby Kent Archaeological Field School, and his team uncovered the remains of a cockpit-style outdoor auditorium built into a hillside in Faversham. Around 150 such theatres have been discovered across northern Europe, according to Wilkinson, but the remains are the first to be found in the UK.
In addition to the orchestra pit – in which choruses would have performed – the ruins also include a narrow stage, featuring holes that are thought to have allowed flooding for aquatic displays. Read more.
The foundations of a spectacular Anglo-Saxon feasting hall, a place where a king and his warriors would have gathered for days of drinking and eating – as vividly described in the poem Beowulf – have been found inches below the village green of Lyminge in Kent.
There was one last celebration by the light of flickering flames at the site, 1,300 years after the hall was abandoned, as archaeologists marked the find by picking out the outline of the hall in candles, lighting up the end-of-excavation party. Heaps of animal bones buried in pits around the edge of the hall bore testimony to many epic parties of the past.
The unexpected find, by a team from the University of Reading funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and working with local archaeologists and villagers, is exceptionally rare. Read more.
The rare 7th to 9th century hall, which would have accommodated up to 60 people during royal feasts, was the first to be discovered in more than 30 years when it was excavated by Reading University experts this summer.
But further developments are expected over the coming years as researchers plan to scour the surrounding area in the hope of finding an entire network of other buildings.
Feasting halls like the one uncovered in Lyminge, which contained jewels, animal bones and a broken horse’s harness, were always part of a larger complex of houses built for accommodation and other ceremonial purposes during royal visits, experts explained. Read more.
If you were called Sacratus, Constitutus or Memorianus, and had some bad luck in Roman Kent, archaeologists may have discovered why.
A “curse tablet” made of lead and buried in a Roman farmstead has been unearthed in East Farleigh.
Inscribed in capital letters are the names of 14 people, which experts believe were intended to have bad spells cast upon them.
The tablet is being examined by a specialist from Oxford University.
It was discovered by the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group during a dig and has undergone a detailed series of tests. Measuring 6cm (2.3in) by 10cm (3.9in) and 1mm thick, the tablet is extremely fragile.
Experts believe it would have been used by Romans to cast spells on people accused of theft and other misdeeds. Read more.
In 1995 archaeologists made a surprising discovery beneath the floorboards of the Georgian wheelwright’s workshop at Chatham Historic Dockyard – the remains of an 18th-century flagship.
Now after almost two decades of research, the mystery vessel has been named as the Namur, a second-rate ship of the line that played a key role in the battle that eliminated the threat of French invasion and left Britain ruling the waves.
Described as ‘the single most important warship discovery in Northern Europe since the Mary Rose’, the Namur was launched at the Kent dockyard in 1756, and served with the Royal Navy for 47 years, taking part in nine fleet actions, including three major worldwide conflicts. Read more.