Students and staff excavate ancient site on Canterbury campus


Image courtesy of: Kelsey Bennett

Staff and Students from the University of Kent have conducted an excavation of a site on the edge of the Canterbury Campus.

Dr David Walsh and Dr Luke Lavan of the University’s Classical and Archaeological Studies Department, as well as 30 university students, conducted the dig on university estate next to Blean Church.

Dr Luke Lavan, the project director said “this has been a great opportunity for our students to get together in a physically-distanced setting outdoors, with a chance to experience the work and networking that digs consist of and are a big part of the field of Archaeology.

“It exemplifies the best of hands-on learning, giving the students a tangible connection with the ancient past. Our aims have been to enrich our campus story and the University’s place in local history.”

Throughout two weeks in September, they made many discoveries about the ancient inhabitants of the University campus.

These include tools left by hunters of the Mesolithic, Bronze Age burial mounds, a Bronze Age axe, and an enormous medieval enclosure ditch that relates to the Blean manor house, as well as some evidence of tile production.

The excavation was funded by Mr Paul Dyer, a history graduate of the university.

Volunteers included a mix of students from a variety of different degrees including archaeology, classics, ancient history, art history, and modern history.

One of the volunteers was Kelsey Bennett, who managed the social media of the project.

He ran Archaeology @ Blean, the University of Kent blog that kept everyone up to date with what was going on during the two weeks.

He said: “It’s important to showcase what we are doing! In my opinion, the job of an archaeologist is to add to the history and the story of an area, and this should be something that is accessible and readily available.”

“Archaeology is sometimes overlooked, and my hope is that people on campus see how much work goes into something like this, that see how rich our local setting is, and that they support our work.”

He added: “This group of people were so great! Everyone got on so well, there was a great mix of students from first year to masters, from different backgrounds, all doing different courses."

“Some experienced, some not! I think everyone got on really well and people definitely left this experience with a few more friends.”

An open day was also organised, where the general public, Kent University students, and staff visited the site, including Vice Chancellor Karen Cox.

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