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Excavators return to celebrate Roman dig

PUBLISHED: 13:52 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:43 16 August 2010

SIXTY years after volunteers began to unearth one of Britain s most important Roman ruin at Lullingstone, the remaining original archaeologists have returned.

SIXTY years after volunteers began to unearth one of Britain's most important Roman ruin at Lullingstone, the remaining original archaeologists have returned.

To celebrate the anniversary of the discovery, the site's management team invited the first excavators to come back on Friday and see how it has progressed.

The volunteer diggers, Brian Philp, Tony Rook, Gerald Cramp and Derek Gerrard have maintained an interest in the field, following their introduction to archaeology at Lullingstone as school boys.

Mr Philp, who lives in Bromley, runs the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit and has remained connected to the site in Eynsford, near Swanley since 1949.

He said: "I have been attached here ever since, 10 years as a volunteer, about five years helping the custodian of the site. Snce I have become a professional I am often back here. It is a fantastic site."

Mr Rook, who now lives in Hertfordshire, has also became a professional archaeologist and is the only surviving member to have been involved in the project from the first day. He used to cycle to Eynsford from Sevenoaks every day after school.

Mr Cramp, who lives in Hartley, joined the dig in 1957 and works alongside Mr Philp for the rescue unit.

He said: "It feels so unusual to look at the ruins surrounded by tourist information, when I can remember working directly on it. I remember tramping all over the floor and covering it with tarpaulin each evening."

Work began on the site following the discovery of written evidence 200 years earlier, suggesting there was a Roman ruin in the area.

Mr Philp explained that the significance of the site, one of around 100 Roman Villas discovered in Kent, was the presence of an early Christian shrine, adding: "The Christian association is virtually unique."

The English Heritage owned site underwent major refurbishment last year.

l For more details visit www.english-heritage.org.uk and follow the links.

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