Classical & Archaeological Studies

Congratulations to Andrew Bates

10 May 2018

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The Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies is delighted to announce that Andrew Bates has completed his PhD, entitled ‘Making the Invisible Visible: New Survey and Investigation of the Iron Age Hillforts of Bigbury and Oldbury in Kent', under the supervision of Dr Steve Willis.

Bigbury and Oldbury are two significant monuments of the Iron Age, yet their dates, use and importance are not well understood. Andrew's research project employed a series of methods and approaches, to help place these sites in a wider landscape and contextual setting.

Oldbury near Sevenoaks, at an area of 50 hectares, is one of the largest Hillforts in Britain; despite the scale of endeavour in constructing its massive earthwork circuit, it has been suggested by its excavators that it was probably not permanently occupied. Andrew's survey of the area identified potential zones of activity within the interior and a possible indication that there may have been a smaller Hillfort or enclosure before the present ramparts were constructed. The research also brought together all of the available previous studies of the site. Coupled with this data, the study investigated the location and visibility of Oldbury within the Iron Age landscape to understand the possible uses of the monument.

Famous for its multifarious ironwork hoard, the Hillfort at Bigbury is thought by some to have been a forerunner to present day Canterbury and there is a consensus amongst the modern commentators that Bigbury was the Hillfort attacked by Caesar during his 54BC campaign in Britain (though this remains unproven). In fact, beyond the ramparts, little detail is known of the pre-historic character of Bigbury or the hinterland of Bigbury and how the monument sits within the much wider Iron Age landscape. The research showed that stratified and dateable archaeology exists around the immediate Hillfort environs, much of it at depth not easily detectable with standard geophysics equipment.

The results also revealed a much longer chronology to the site than previously realized, showing that an area just outside of the ramparts was occupied probably during the Bronze Age and through to the early Iron Age. This demonstrates a continuity of settlement for at least 1500 years before the Romans arrived.

Our congratulations to Dr Bates.

For more details on a PhD in Classical and Archaeological Studies, see here:

Classical & Archaeological Studies, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 19/12/2013