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Excavations at Bigberry, near Canterbury 1978–80

  • F. H. Thompson

Excavations at the Iron Age hillfort of Bigberry, Kent, in 1978–80 had the object of a fresh appraisal since the excavations of 1933–4 of a site customarily regarded as the first obstacle encountered by Caesar after his second landing in Britain in 54 B.C. The main defences and those of the annexe were sectioned, and a hitherto unrecorded cross-dyke also. Various magnetic anomalies located by a geophysical survey were investigated and gave evidence of internal occupation and structures. It is suggested that there was a settlement preceding the hillfort, with the cross-dyke as a possible second phase; the hillfort may have been built in the second century B.C. by newcomers from Gaul, and after Caesar's passage through Kent the occupants moved down into the valley of the Stour to the site of Canterbury, though the precise point in the second half of the first century B.C. remains uncertain.

The opportunity has been taken of a simple but complete republication of the nineteenth-century discoveries of the metalwork from the site now dispersed among museums at Canterbury, Maidstone and Manchester. It is suggested that this material represents the abandoned possessions of the inhabitants and varied aspects of their life, and industrial or ritual explanations are discounted.

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