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Skeleton of an adult female (Roman)

Skeleton of an adult female aged about 20-30 years, found during excavations at the Roman Villa at Darenth.  This comprises two of the 96 boxes of archaeological finds from excavations in North-West Kent (see T-231019-01)

In 1969 Kent Archaeological Rescue excavated the Roman Village at Darenth (Philp, 1973).  At he extreme edge of the gravel pit and at about 65ft east of the aisled building, just beyond the edge of the metalled road, the bulldozer revealed a rectangular cut in the subsoil.   On examination, this proved to be a grace, 8ft long and probably 3ft wide, containing the skeleton of an adult female aged about 5ft 5in in height.  The body has been placed on its front with its arms and leg quite straight and the head towards the north.  It had been buried in a wooden coffin of which only the iron nails survived.  These indicated that the coffin had been about 5ft 8in by 1ft 8in and at least 8in high.  The nails had broad, flat heads and were about 2 or 3in long.  There were no associated grave goods.  The base of the grave rested on chalk ad gravel at a depth of about 2.5 ft below the approximate Roman ground-level and about 5ft from present ground-level.  The grave was covered by the thick deposit of black loam containing late-Roman material which covered most of this area.  It seems clear that the burial must date from Roman times, perhaps from the 3rd or 4th centuries, when unaccompanied inhumation burials were more common.  A careful search of the adjacent area failed to locate other graves, but it is possible that more await discovered nearby.

A short report on the skeleton by Emma van der Velden of Southampton University Department of Archaeology can be downloaded here.


Philp B. (1973) Excavations in West Kent 1960-1970, Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, Dover. pp119-154.

Item Features

Object Number P-231113-01
Number of objects 1 (skeleton)
Place of Discovery Darenth Roman Villa TQ 5635.7065
Date of discovery 20/06/1969
Who Found it Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit
Significance to the collection High
Completeness Complete
Date Acquired 23/10/2023
Significance to the Collection High
Condition of Holding Donation from KARU
Object Owner APCT
Current Location Department of Bioarchaeology, University of Southampton