Dover Express - Friday 04 April 1902
WINGHAM IN ROMAN TIMES.
That Wingham was a place of human habitation before the year of human redemption is not open to doubt, and the Romans, when they landed in a country covered with woods, forests, and marshes, would naturally follow the beaten tracks which the natives had made for themselves; and from the place of disembarkation they found a road which then, as now, leads along solid ground into the sheltered vale of Wingham.
Of course, the Romans being experienced soldiers, did not leave themselves open to flank attack. Their scouts were thrown out on either side, to the coast one side, and the Stour on the other; but doubtless Wingham was the halting-place of a considerable portion of the Roman forces; and having come, seen, and enjoyed the picturesque situation, which must have been two-fold more lovely than now, they held it so long as they held Britain.
The spot which the Romans selected as their residence was definitely discovered and excavated by the Kent Archaeological Society in the year 1881, when a Roman bath and villa were found in a portion of the field known as the vineyard, near to the bridge on the road to Canterbury. The walls were eighteen inches thick, composed of Roman tiles and lined with mosaic, and the floor, which was of cement composed of pounded tiles, was also inlaid with mosaic work. One room, which was on a little higher level than the bath, had a tesselated floor with a labyrinth pattern in the centre, surrounded with a black and white border.
The excavation, which was conducted by the late Mr. George Dowker, of Stourmouth, only extended to the bath and some adjoining rooms, the villa itself, according to the indications, being further south. Mr. Dowker's narrative of the excavation, contained in the 14th and 15th vols. of Archaeologia Cantiana, leaves no question but that these are the remains of an important Roman residence, built of durable materials at a time when the natives of this country never indulged in any habitations more substantial than wooden huts. The place where the Roman villa was found being called "The Vineyard," and having borne that name at a very early date, as proved by Norman records, it may be assumed that this vineyard originated in the latter part of the Roman occupation, the vine having been introduced into England about the year A.D. 280.
In the year 1710 a stone coffin containing ashes was found in a field of Wingham Court Farm, near the same spot, but nothing further was discovered at that time.