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Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Roman villa finds go on display in Folkestone shop
Drawing of the Folkestone Romany villa
The remains of the villa will disappear over the cliff edge in the next few years

Work has begun on an archaeological project proving that Folkestone was a major gateway to the Mediterranean 90 years before the Roman invasion.

Over 300 bags of Roman coins, pottery and wine vessels have been removed from the site of the Roman villa on the cliffs above Folkestone.

The history the finds represent would not have been discovered without the help of almost 200 volunteers.

The finds will be sorted in a new shop which opened on Monday in Folkestone.

Working on the artefacts

Dr Andrew Richardson from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which has been excavating the site, said the villa on Folkestone's West Cliff is continuing to erode over the edge and archaeologists are hoping to capture as much information from the site before it crumbles into the sea.

Working on the Folkestone finds
The volunteers work with a small group of archaeologists on the finds

Most of the work has been done on the dig by volunteers working with a team of three professional archaeologists.

"The volunteers are now carrying on working on the artefacts, sorting them, helping to catalogue and getting hands-on with their own town's history," Dr Richardson said.

The villa was built on the site of an iron age roundhouse and was a key trading post on the routes between the Mediterranean and Britain.

Tontine Street shop

The newly opened shop on Tontine Street, Folkestone is being used as a workshop where conservation work can be done on the finds.

The shop is open to the public most days where they can learn about the on-going excavation of the Roman villa site and find out about how to volunteer with A Town Unearthed Project.

The project has been given use of the shop by The Creative Foundation until April. Excavation work will continue in the summer on the Roman, iron age and prehistoric remains on the site.

For further information or to become involved in the project email: atownunearthed@canterbury.ac.uk

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