Archaeological excavation begins at site of Thanet Parkway Station

The Canterbury Archaeological Trust team is on site

Canterbury Archaeological Trust has started excavation by Cliffsend where the new Thanet Parkway Station will be sited.

As part of the planning process, excavations will take place in advance of the Thanet Parkway construction. This will help to record the archaeology for future generations.

The initial phase of the works will involve the careful recording and removal of archaeology. This will start with the use of mechanical excavators to remove plough soil and reveal archaeological horizons.

Photo CAT

A page dedicated to dig updates says: “We expect to find Iron Age enclosure ditches, rubbish pits and trackways at the site, as surrounding areas have been found to have lots of archaeological settlements and field systems related to farming. We hope that these findings will tell us more about what prehistoric life was like.

“We know from previous investigations that there was a large Iron Age site on Hengist Way which was bordered by a substantial hollow-way (a track). This originated in the Bronze Age and eventually went out of use in the Romano-British period.

“The feature and much of the settlement activity is known to extend across the Parkway site and to the south toward Cottington Road. Cremations and burials have also been found to the north and west, dating to the Iron Age and Romano-British. Whilst Anglo-Saxon or medieval remains are less likely to be found, there is however evidence of an Anglo-Saxon building nearby.”

Evidence of life throughout the centuries found during previous work 

The district has seen significant events in British history including:

  • raids by Caesar
  • the arrival of the Romans and their departure through Richborough
  • the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons Hengist and Horsa
  • the mission of St Augustine.

From investigations, studies have been able to delve deeper into its history. They included:

  • an excavation in advance of the East Kent Access Road (Hengist Way in particular)
  • an excavation of the Margate to Weatherlees pipeline
  • the findings of significant remains at Cliffsend Farm Cottages, Ramsgate Harbour Approach road and Thanet Earth.

A booklet  – Digging at the Gateway – from prehistory to Caesar and beyond – charts evidences from centuries of history in Thanet unearthed during the construction of the second phase East Kent Access road.

For thousands of years East Kent has been a gateway for new peoples, new cultures, new ideas and for trade. Kent County Council’s construction of the new road link provided a rare opportunity to undertake large-scale investigations of this important archaeological landscape.

Thanet, effectively an island from the Early Bronze Age until the 15th century AD, is now joined to the mainland following the silting up and reclamation of the Wantsum Channel.

The Oxford Wessex Archaeology (OWA) joint venture project, at times involving over 150 archaeologists, undertook a series of excavations, covering 48 hectares, along the 6.5-kilometre route of the new road. This work, the biggest archaeological excavation in the UK in 2010, revealed a wealth of evidence spanning the Palaeolithic to the Second World War.

Previous dig

Prehistoric highlights during that project included 11 Bronze Age ring ditches − the largest possibly originating as a Late Neolithic hengiform monument, two Late Bronze Age metalwork hoards and a unique Early−Middle Iron Age trapezoidal enclosure − most likely a high status settlement or sanctuary.

The discovery of a large, ditched enclosure of mid-1st century BC date on the Ebbsfleet peninsula was probably the most significant  of the entire EKA project, revealing a probable link to Julius Caesar.

Evidence for subsequent Romano-British settlement and burial was extensive, while two early Saxon cemeteries and a rare Mid-Saxon settlement represent further important discoveries.

Read more about Digging at the Gateway here  

Surrounding site studies have also found:

  • a Mesolithic flint axe
  • Neolithic pits (containing burnt hazelnuts)
  • a small Bronze Age settlement, showing that the area has been occupied by humans for over 10,000 years.

The Parkway excavation is due to finish in March 2021 but there will be events happening through into 2022 as part of the post-excavation process.

Thanet Parkway railway station

Controversial plans to create a multi-million pound train station in Thanet were approved by county councillors in September.

The £34million Thanet Parkway Station has spiralled in cost from an initial £11.2 million.

The 9.27 hectare greenfield site will accommodate an unmanned station for up to six trains an hour, along with a 317-space car park and a new signalised junction to provide access for vehicles onto the A299 Hengist Way.

Find the Canterbury Archaeological Trust on facebook here


  1. There’s more in this than meets the eye.
    All the arguments about journey times are specious, to say the least .
    Much more likely that there is a plant to build several 1000 houses nearby.

    • Phyllis, this IS all about building houses, property prices will soar, while building on green fields., A deceitful way of getting the public to pay for developers profiteering.

  2. What an absolute waste of money. KCC and TDC saying that they have to make budget cuts and hike up council tax but can find the millions needed for this white elephant. Are we looking for a world record in the number of stations you can fit on an island? What are we up to now,8?

  3. I do hope that the planning permissions given for all future developments around Thanet stipulate that the developers as well
    I believe having a statutory duty to pay advance archaeological digs , also have to contribute towards a fund to create a museum located in Thanet to house all artefacts found so they do not leave the area.
    The finds over the years within Thanet where are they all ? . A dedicated local Thanet museum I’m sure would be an attraction that would be welcomed by a majority of locals .

    • A lot of the time digs are done from behind a desk if they did not find anything in the past they will not find anything now, wild life studies are carried out that way too and it is a lot cleaner to read through records probably cheaper too I agree we should have a museum for the finds but does that make me sentimental for wanting to see the past?

  4. Let’s hope nothing significant is found ~ the largest Roman camp in Britain discovered hear Ashford was buried under a new motorway

  5. “For thousands of years East Kent has been a gateway for new peoples, new cultures etc’” says the article. Exactly. But there are still people in Thanet who object to families from just up the road in London coming here for a better life.

        • Not really – emperor Claudius wasn’t so secure on his throne,and,like all emperors,needed the ongoing support of the army to consolidate his position.The invasion and conquest of Britain kept the army busy,and made him look like the great military hero to the Roman public.Plenty of loot and slaves available to the invading army.As for the lead,that was available through trade,and had been for centuries.Claiming that the major motivation for the Roman conquest of Britain was to secure lead supplies is a little like saying Germany invaded France in 2 world wars to grab the wine supplies…

          • The Roman’s actually set up lead mines in Britain. There us evidence to suggest that such activity took place in Matlock, in Derbyshire.
            The comment about Roman’s and lead was a response to a previous posting about the reasons they came here.

      • I see the fags and booze have run out so she’s back on the comments section. Can’t you get some mindfulness colouring books for bigots or something Lesley and spare the rest of us your effluence?

        • Lemony So I’m a bigot as well now ?anybody else want be freakin’ rude? Am I not entitled to an opinion? Bullies never win just carry on. Thanet has been my home far longer than some of you have been alive. If you want a war of words you carry on You rude piece of work, nothing sensible to say so just be rude well dear you have picked on the wrong person and for your little mind I do not smoke or drink so before you hurl insults know what you are talking about.

        • The likes of you Lemony will not stop me from commenting on news items on this site, name calling and bullying belong in a playground which I left behind years a you obviously have not. So my final words to you are either grow up or shut up

  6. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Once Brexit starts, with the roads all blocked solid with lorries and holiday maker’s cars, even the daftest ideas ,like a new railway station at Cliffsend or a freight hub on an airport at Manston, suddenly almost make sense.

    It may be the only way to get anywhere!

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