The 2000 year discovery at Ebbsfleet Garden City bridge
Artefacts thought to date back 2000 years were discovered at the site where a new bridge is being built. A Roman ear cleaner and tweezers were found at Springhead Bridge which is being built in Ebbsfleet Garden City. Also found was a piece of timber which may have been used in construction 2000 years ago.
It is likely that it found its way to the bottom of the River Ebbsfleet after being dropped from a barge during transportation.
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which is building the bridge, has commissioned specialists to preserve the timber in wax in a process that takes more than a year.
All the items discovered at the construction site, where archaeologists were employed full time, have been removed for further examination and documentation.
The corporation employed archaeologists at the site due to significant finds elsewhere in the area, including elephant bones during the construction of the High Speed 1 line.
- A Roman ear cleaner – like a cotton bud but made entirely of metal – discovered during the excavation of a drainage trench on the south side of the River Ebbsfleet. Thought to date back between 1600 and 2000 years.
- Tweezers dating back up to 2000 years shaped exactly as you see tweezers today
- Pottery discovered in various locations across the site with fragments identified as of Saxon origin.
The bridge is nearing completion and set to open to the public in the Spring. It will span the River Ebbsfleet and link residents in Springhead Park directly with Ebbsfleet International.
The river has a colourful history. In Roman times its source was the site of a settlement called Vagniacis and the river was used to link Watling Street to the River Thames.
In the fourteenth century it was a stopping place for pilgrims going to Canterbury. It is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Ypwines fleot or Heopwines fleot.
A bridge across the river at Northfleet is mentioned in 1451 and it was still used for shipping in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century the river was the earliest centre in Britain for the commercial cultivation of watercress.
Julia Gregory, Director of Projects with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, said: “Ebbsfleet Garden City and the surrounding area has a fascinating history and while the work goes on to document the items found, it would be lovely to find them a permanent home here in the Garden City at some point in the future.”
The design and construction of the bridge focused on providing access across the river whilst minimising the impact on the local environment. Ecologists have been consulted throughout the project to prevent damage to the ecosystem and the team have programmed works to avoid noise that would impact on the bird nesting season.
Prior to construction a special barrier was installed to prevent reptile and amphibians from entering the site, therefore protecting the local populations.
The bridge project was awarded Bronze in the Building and Construction category at the Green Apple Awards in November for Environmental Best Practice 2019.
Ebbsfleet Garden City now has more than 1,800 homes with almost 5,000 residents.
It also has a primary school with plans for two others and a major secondary school campus under way. It’s first supermarket opened this year and a pub and hotel opened in 2017. A second pub and hotel will go before planners this December.