The Field School

The Field School

Your chance to work on a unique and undiscovered piece of Kentish History

Site History

The site is that of Thomas Becket’s Aldington Palace, from where he could administrate over the church lands just above and around Romney Marsh.

The palace was in use until the Reformation of the mid 1500’s, when the lands were referred to the crown. The land was then subsequently sold off and has been in private ownership ever since.

Records state that there was a farmstead on the site, complete with timber framed buildings, since around 700AD. The stone palace, which still stands, dates from around 1300AD, however it is understood that original palace that was built for Becket is the earlier part of the construction and was extended and refurbished in 1300.

The farm is stated in the Domesday Book of 1086 and tells us that it was a small holding consisting of a timber framed farmhouse, and various outbuildings and animal pens. By the time of Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, the estates boasted a gatehouse, six kitchens, a deer park, two fishponds and accommodation for around 300 hundred staff. Of all of those buildings, just the 1300’s palace is remains standing.

The hill or mound on which the site is located is possibly much earlier than the Saxon remains and could possibly hint at Iron Age activity. The Romans were very active in the area, having established a port at nearby Lympne. The Romans also constructed the two main roads that frame the site.

There is also a natural spring located on the site that may hold some clues of Iron Age and even Bronze Age activity.

Plan of excavation: The site is going to be investigated over the course of the next several years using various surveying and excavation techniques.

Talks, Lectures & Classes

  • Forensic Osteology
  • Lithics

Subjects taught:


Students can partake in field walking, geophysics such as resistivity.


Excavation will be an integral part of the investigation of the site.  The school will teach theory and methodology behind archaeological excavation as well as practical training.


Archaeological recording is integral to excavation.  Students can learn how to record the archaeological environment, interpret features and develop drawing and photographic techniques essential to any archaeological investigation.

Finds processing

Any finds recovered during excavation will be recorded and then processed.  This will include cleaning and marking pottery, sorting finds by their type and photography.


The site has nearby toilets and shops.


Equipment such as trowels and other digging tools can be provided.

Local accommodation

Local accommodation can be arranged through the field school if desired. There are also many other hotels and B&B’s nearby either on Romney Marsh, Ashford or Hythe.


The field school is insured for public liability.


Excavation and recording:                  £100 per day (£450 per week)

Surveying:                                              £45 per day

Recording:                                             £35 per day

Finds processing:                                £30 per day

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