Dating back to Roman times the Port of Dover has a long and historic past. Throughout the planning and construction stages of the Dover Western Docks Revival (DWDR) development management of heritage has not only been a major consideration but also an opportunity to delve into both known and unknown structures.
During excavation of the Wellington Dock Navigation Channel, the DWDR team worked closely with archaeologists. Items of interest were discovered which included over 300 historic timbers and evidence of Tudor engineering works, by Thomas Digges, in the form of a ‘Pent’, the first successful endeavour at the port of controlling a natural shingle bar, and the 240 year old oak and elm Nickalls’ trestle framed groyne, designed to stabilise the highly-mobile shingle and sand foreshore. When built both were schemes of national importance and the Pent required an increase in the taxes on beer and grain to fund. Other finds have included the unearthing of several Ice Age mammoth teeth.
To share these incredible finds and give an insightful overview of the Port’s history a series of interactive presentations have been set up with local schools, the first of which was held at St Mary’s Primary School, Dover. Samples of the timbers along with many of the artefacts uncovered during the excavations were taken along for the children to experience first-hand. How often does one get the chance to see a mammoth tooth at close quarters?
Chris Talbot, Communications Manager said: “Even though the presentation provided a lot of detail it was quite amazing how much was absorbed by the pupils. They were quite precise in their questioning and very aware of the history and environment in which they live. Their enthusiasm to investigate the artefacts in detail was a pleasure to behold.
We provided all the children with souvenir samples of 500 year old timbers, along with fact sheets, so that they could share the experience with their parents and siblings.”
Mrs Berbiers, Head of Key Stage 2 at St Mary’s, added: “The children had a wonderful afternoon investigating the artefacts and researching further into the history of Dover; marvelling at the historical links they could make to an area they were so familiar with.”