Dan Thompson: Margate Caves dig – day three

Day 3 of the dig

Dan Thompson is the artist-in-residence, leading the dig at the Margate Caves site in Cliftonville.

Dan is sharing his day-by-day diary of the dig with The Isle of Thanet News

Day 3

After two days with a small team on the Margate Caves site, the site became something else entirely on the first day of the community dig.

Dan at the dig Photo Frank Leppard

Fifteen volunteers joined the professionals today – and while some were experienced amateur archaeologists, most weren’t. A mother and daughter joined, fulfilling mum’s ambition that had been put on hold when she became a parent.

Another local, a Time Team fan, had always wanted to have a go. One man, who had worked in the building trade, had regularly had to wait for the archaeologists to stop before he could start – and wanted to see the other side.

Twelve-year-old Edward is a keen historian – and found the base of the second Iron Age pot found on the site, and a third Minton-tiled floor.

Overall, the massive increase in people-power meant that more of the main trench was opened and cleaned. Iron Age ditches stand proud of the chalk natural, and Bryan House’s walls and a flagstoned courtyard are becoming clearer. There’s a lot of animal bone, some small pottery finds, and plenty of pieces of broken pipe stem.

The second trench has been opened and is so far find-free. There was a lot of loose chalk, which may be left over from the Caves original use as a chalk mine. Edward’s were the best finds – although the bottom half of a Reeves stone jar is a good local find.

Maurice Morris dropped by

Interviewed at the end of the day for ITV Meridian, I held up the Iron Age pot base and the Reeves bottle, to show that the whole of Margate’s history is on this one small site.

A history the new Margate Caves visitor centre will be able to tell through the finds from this important archaeological excavation.


  1. A very interesting article. These fine upstanding volunteers are obviously local. Where are all the Czechs, Romanians, Bulgarians etc. They are no-where to be seen.

  2. Don’t be silly, the clue is in the word VOLUNTEERS!! This means doing something to help for free. Obviously there’s no translation for that.

  3. I like that scrambling about in post war bombed out house reveal…..oh wait a minute… 3 Minton tiled floors. Laughable really.

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