A major archaeological excavation has started in Cliffsend ahead of the construction of the new Thanet Parkway station.
Led by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, the excavation will continue over the winter and is expected to be completed by March 2021.
The project will add significantly to the growing understanding of the archaeology of the Isle of Thanet.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Michael Payne said: “Thanet has one of the best archaeological heritages waiting to be found in the whole of Kent.
“Whilst COVID-19 has unfortunately meant that public visits are not possible, Canterbury Archaeological Trust has been able to put together a programme of educational activities that will provide a lasting legacy of the discoveries that were only possible as a result of building Thanet Parkway railway station.
“An exciting range of community engagement activities has been planned to take place as a result of the excavation of this site.
“This will provide another great opportunity for residents, as well as schoolchildren and Kent’s university students, to learn more about the area’s important history and prehistory.”
The new railway station will boost connectivity for coastal communities on Southeastern’s High Speed services into London St Pancras from Ramsgate via Ashford International.
“Ensuring the community is engaged throughout each phase of the development is key.
“Having the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating areas and items uncovered as construction begins is a great way to educate and engage local people with this stage of development and as a Cliffsend resident myself I’m looking forward to learning more about the heritage of the site.”
Improving access to East Kent increases the potential of the area as it looks to attract investment and regeneration. The new station will play a key role by providing support for economic development and the delivery of Thanet’s Local Plan.
The £34 million scheme has received £12 million from the Getting Building Fund, alongside £2.4 million from KCC, £14 million from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, £2 million from Thanet District Council, £3.4m from the New Stations Fund and £700,000 from the East Kent Spatial Development Company.
The Isle of Thanet has an interesting and varied history with archaeological material recovered stretching back through Roman times into the depths of prehistory.
Its proximity to the continent has cemented its place in history as one of the UK’s key points for trade, cultural exchange, and military action.
Recent development in Thanet, including the East Kent Access Road, Ramsgate Harbour Approach, and Thanet Earth, have allowed archaeologists to build up a detailed timeline of Thanet. Extensive archaeology dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon periods are known to survive across the island.
Although public access to the site will not be possible during the excavation, Canterbury Archaeological Trust will be sharing site news through their social media pages, and through the KCC Thanet Parkway archaeology website.