Ancient artefacts discovered at Ebbsfleet Garden City Bridge

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Artefacts thought to date back 2000 years have been discovered at the site where the new Ebbsfleet Garden City Bridge is being constructed

A Roman ear cleaner and tweezers are some of the ancient artefacts that were found at the Springhead Bridge which is being built in Ebbsfleet Garden City.

A piece of timber was also found which may have been used in construction 2000 years ago.

It is likely that the timber 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 through a process that takes more than a year.

All the items discovered at the construction site have been removed for further examination and documentation.

The artefacts found included:

  • 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.
ebsfleet garden city bridge, artefacts
The timber found in the Ebbsfleet River

Springhead Bridge

The Ebbsfleet Garden City Bridge is 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.

In Roman times, Ebbsfleet River’s source was home to a settlement called Vagniacis and the river was used to link Watling Street to the River Thames.

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 main aim of the construction of the bridge at Ebbsfleet Garden City was to provide access across the river whilst minimising the environmental impact. Ecologists have been consulted throughout the project to prevent ecosystem damage and the team programmed works to avoid noise that would impact on bird nesting seasons.

Prior to construction, a special barrier was installed to prevent reptile and amphibians from entering the site, therefore protecting the local populations.

Springhead Bridge was awarded a Bronze Status 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 underway. Its first supermarket opened this year and a pub and hotel opened in 2017. A second pub and hotel will go before planners this December.

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