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to an extent which necessitated the western boundary of the villa being secured against the periodical vagaries of the river.
We will now discuss the ways by which the villa was approached.
On the eastern side and only 132 yards distant exists a road still called the "Pack-way," which communicates with the ancient British road (Pilgrim Way) to the south. Its northern course was formerly to Dartford, but now soon after passing the villa it ends abruptly at the edge of the Darenth Grange estate; the continuation of it may, however, still be traced through the park, beyond which the bridle-path to Dartford probably marks its original line. The Pack-way has all the character of a pre-Roman track, but it was doubtless used by the Romans who dwelt about these parts.
A more direct road to the villa is that which comes from the great Roman highway at the east end of Dartford to Darenth; after passing through the latter hamlet it terminates at the gate leading to Court Lodge Farm.
From this gate the villa is only a quarter of a mile off and in a straight line, 150 paces of the distance being still preserved as a private road past the farm buildings, while the rest of the way is used as a public foot-path. We have no hesitation in saying that this fine straight road from Dartford to Darenth is the principal one by which the villa was reached from the north, as at the Dartford end the Roman cemetery discovered on East Hill was by the side of the road, and a little beyond, a few yards to the west of it, are the Roman foundations near the Powder Mills, before alluded to.
Sufficient evidence having been brought forward to establish the antiquity of this road as far as it at present exists, we may go a step farther by suggesting that it originally continued from the farm gate, past the villa, to the main road at South Darenth.
A map copied from the 6-inch Ordnance Survey is herewith given, whereon the supposed connection between the important roads at North and South Darenth is shewn by dotted lines, also the curiously inconvenient way by which
the two are now brought into contact by road. This peculiarity induced the writer to consider the cause more carefully, the conclusion arrived at being that it was due to a direct way past the villa having been abandoned in consequence of its liability to become occasionally inundated by the river.
This will be more clearly understood by the reader bearing in mind that the great depth of earth which has accumulated over the western foundations of the villa covers also any road that may exist between it and the river.
On referring to the Plan a lane marked " Ancient Way" will be seen going from the Pack-way to the river. This lane was made at some period after the villa was deserted, as it cut through the southern end of the outbuildings, the walls of which continue, as ascertained by probing, into the field opposite. As further foundations are known to exist over a considerable area in this adjoining land, called "Marsh Field, it is hoped that the owner, Mr. Tristram, will permit them to be uncovered. In all probability they are the remains of farm buildings, walled cattle yards, and other enclosures, such as one would expect to find associated with the huge establishment we have described.
The extent of these foundations in both South Field and Marsh Field were apparently known to the late Mr. A. J. Dunkin of Dartford, and the late Mr. Seager of Darenth, the parish sexton, for on their authority the words "Site of Roman Village" were inserted on the large scale Ordnance Maps across the two fields. They were also responsible for the insertion of the words "Site of Roman Mill," by the river bank opposite. The Ordnance Survey Department has obligingly supplied the writer with a copy of the entry in the original Note Book of 1867, as follows:-" This village stood between the modern villages of Darenth and South Darenth near the river, and from the number of remains, coins, pottery, and hewn stone, constantly turned up by the plough, must have been of large extent. On a small water course which then led from the river to the village stood a mill, two mill-stones of which were dug up some time since at the edge of the wood; a portion of this water course is now stopped up."
The village having now been reduced to a villa, the revised Ordnance Map will contain the necessary correction, together with a minute plan of what had been discovered at the time the Revising Officer was passing through the district.
As far as the Roman mill is concerned, the evidence brought forward by Mr. Dunkin in support of it is too insignificant to warrant the assertion that it ever existed. Since he furnished the information to the Surveyors the site of the supposed mill has been excavated at a great depth for water-cress beds, but nothing was found in the shape of foundations. The writer examined the beds and the earth thrown out during their construction, likewise every portion of the river bank on both sides, but saw no trace of the remains of buildings of any kind. Here and there a fragment or two of tile may be seen, but such one would expect to find for some distance around the villa.*
It is very remarkable that so little débris of masonry of this gigantic structure could be detected upon the surface of its site, and the quantity met with during the excavations was notably small. A partial and interesting explanation of this is that one, if not two, of the neighbouring churches were built with Roman materials. Darenth Church possesses a nave and chancel of Saxon date, with an additional Norman chancel. The older portion contains numerous Roman tiles, which, together with the flints, we may presume to have come from the ruined villa close at hand. The ancient Church of St. Margaret's has totally disappeared, but it stood about the same distance from the villa. An old engraving of what remained of the fabric in the last century distinctly shews its round-headed arches and windows turned with tiles.
We may conclude therefore that the villa formed a stone
*In the Survey Note Book the words "Lambardes Antiquities" are inserted below the names of Messrs. Dunkin and Seager, as supporting their statements. The Kentish historian never wrote a book bearing that title, and he, moreover, does not allude to any Roman remains at Darenth in either of his works. In the Perambulation of Kent, which was written in 1570 and printed in 1576, he says, in referring to the river, "Upon this Derent also have been lately erected two milles of rare devise (or rather singular, within our Realme), the one employed for the making of all sortes of Paper: the other exercised for the drawing of Iron into Wyres, and bigger lengthes and fashions, as well for the readier making of Nailes of all kindes as for the easier dispatch of Barres for windowes and other Services."