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Roman theatre found in back garden of school

A man has revealed the discovery of a Roman cockpit theatre almost at the bottom of his back garden in Faversham.

Roman theatre found in back garden of school
The archaeological dig at the theatre site in Faversham [Credit: Kent Online]
Dr Paul Wilkinson, of the Kent Archaeological Field School, says the 2,000-year-old monument is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain.

The theatre, which would have seated 12,000 people, was found at School Farm.

Now Dr Wilkinson, pictured below, is fighting to preserve the unique find for future generations.

He said: "It really is an amazing find, the first one in Britain, and it is just beyond my garden. This is a unique and wonderful discovery, not only for Faversham but for all of Britain.

"The theatre could have held 12,000 people and we are going to request for it to become an ancient monument site because it is so important and we can preserve it for future generations."

The site shows activity dating back to the Bronze Age, but it is the Roman theatre, which would have been used for religious occasions, that has really excited history buffs.

Roman theatre found in back garden of school
This illustration depicts a theatre near St Albans that would have been used around the same time as the Faversham cockpit theatre [Credit: Daily Mail]
Dr Wilkinson added: "It would have been a religious sanctuary for the Romans. They would have held religious festivals there. It is called a cockpit theatre.

"There are 150 of them in northern Europe, but none in Britain until now. We were not expecting it."

The discovery was made by the Kent Archaeological Field School, which is based in Faversham.

Investigations began on the land back in 2007, but the results have only just been released.

Dr Wilkinson believes the site is the only known example in Britain of a Roman rural religious sanctuary, with a theatre actually built into the hillside.

English Heritage spokesman Debbie Hickman said: "If the full analysis of the results does confirm that the site on the outskirts of Faversham is a Roman rural theatre, it would be a most remarkable find."

Author: Lauren Fruen | Source: Kent Online [December 26, 2012]

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