Dan Thompson: An Iron Age skeleton at the Margate Caves dig

An incredible discovery at the Margate Caves dig

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

On the last day of the excavation Dan reveals an exciting find – an Iron Age skeleton.

The Caves Trust now have to decide how best to preserve the 2,000 year old Northdown Road resident.

Dig diary day 24

Well – there haven’t been 24 days of digging, but 24 days since the start of the dig, the archaeological team have finished on site.

Our two archaeologists, Dan and Jeremy, have taken local people on a remarkable journey. Today, the final act was to lift an Iron Age skeleton, found on the last day of the two-week community excavation.

To lift it required a licence, so the find was kept under wraps until paperwork in place, our 2000-year-old former Northdown Road resident could be carefully removed.

The skeleton was a crouch burial: the body laid as if curled up and sleeping, in the bottom of a bell-shaped chalk pit. Looking up from the pit today to blue skies and seagulls above, it was easy for the years to slip away, and to be able to imagine the small Iron Age community living a rural life on this site.

After conservation and analysis, the Margate Caves trustees will decide how to best preserve the remains, and whether to display them in the new visitor centre that’s being built on the site. That building will be open next spring.

As the archaeology ended, the Caves were reopened today so that the underground specialists from High Peak Geotechnical could start work. That’s a big step closer to welcoming the public back to Margate’s lost attraction at No. 1 Northdown Road.


  1. Surely there’s more to this story than what has been written…feels like it’s only the bare bones in this article

  2. A very interesting article. However, from what I gather from it, requiring “a licence” to remove the remains, implies that it’s only ‘legal’ to do so if the archæologists pay money for the privilege. Licence indeed. Bah humbug!

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