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31 October 18

Digging deep to help discover a lost ancient watercourse

Affinity Water employee at the ancient uphill watercourse in Folkestone

 

Teams from Affinity Water joined history academics from Canterbury Christ Church University and Archaeological Trust (CAT) earlier in October to uncover an ancient uphill watercourse in Folkestone, said to be engineered by a seventh century Anglo-Saxon princess, Saint Eanswythe.

 

‘Finding Eanswythe’ is a community project involving hundreds of local people to learn about the history of the area and will continue until February 2019. Members from Kent County Council, Folkestone Town Council, Hythe District Council and St Mary and St Eanswythe Church Folkestone helped push the project forward to discover this national heritage.

 

The ‘miracle’ of the watercourse it that the princess, Saint Eanswythe made water ‘run up-hill’ into the centre of the town, providing Folkestone with water for centuries and is believed to be one of the reasons Folkestone town was built where it is.

 

Bev Taylor, Corporate Responsibility Manager said: “Having seen Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) surveying the area earlier in the year, it was fascinating to watch them exposing the layers of history under our feet. The trench revealed the different natural layers of geology and how these had been cut through to create the ‘town ditch’ or contour aqueduct. Brickwork and other features such as post holes showed later alterations had been made, although it is difficult to know when these actually occurred.

 

“When you see first-hand the effort people made all those years age to move water to their settlement, it certainly reminds you how critical water is to us all. The original engineering and setting out was so good that our modern pipe network follows the same contours almost exactly. I’m really excited to see how the Canterbury Archaeological Trust interpret all the information from the dig and bring the story of St Eanswythe’s water together.”

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