Thanet - the early days
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Researched and Written by Sue and Dawn.
THANET HISTORY UP TO 1066 AD
Thanet has been known by many names in the past Tanet, Tenet, Tane'tus and Taneth are just a few. Ptolemy called it Tolianis.
may derive from a Celtic name "teine" meaning fire and would make
Thanet the "Bright Isle" perhaps with reference to the beacons that
were positioned round the island. Or could it perhaps be to do with the
epic poem "Beowulf" that some think in part referred to the coastline
of Kent, that the North Foreland displays an optical trick of "shining"
when the rising sun strikes the white chalk cliff. In fact in pre-dawn,
the cliffs can shine while the surrounding sea is in darkness, hence
the name light or bright.
According to Claudius Ptolemaeus, the
famous cartographer and geographer from the 1st - 2nd Century, Thanet
could well have been the mysterious "Isle of the Dead" - "ynys
Thanatos" where Greek legend has it that Britain itself was the home to
the dead and souls were rowed across the sea in unmanned boats in the
middle of the night, returning before dawn.
For more on the theories of Thanet's name see HERE
Fact is that Thanet has more ancient burial mounds than anywhere else in Britain which could have been seen from far out at sea.
earliest records of Thanet between the years of 250,000 BC and 6,000 BC
show Britain in the early part of this period to be joined to Europe.
An incomplete skull was found near Gravesend and was believed to be the
first known Englishman.
Early tools were discovered at Reculver.
Remains of animals such as Bears, Bison and Straight Tusked Elephants have been found in Kent.
Early tribal people also are believed to have occupied coastal areas around Thanet and at Minster, Monkton and Cliffs End.
In 6,000 BC the sea broke through and separated Kent from France and at about this time Thanet became an Island.
the latter part of the period 3,000 - 2,000 BC there is evidence of
people in Thanet. Numerous pot fragments (Sherds) have been found all
over Thanet and it is known that Beaker people were buried with their
2,000 - 600 BC, during the early Bronze Age hundreds of
Round Barrows (burial grounds) were constructed which can still be seen
from the air today. Although Thanet is only a small area of Kent, it
contains nearly half of the County’s ancient sites as detected from the
It is thought that Thanet was quite an important area with 5
major defended settlements, Kingsgate and the whole of the North
Foreland hilltop on which the lighthouse stands appears to be enclosed
by a double parallel ditch - about 50 acres were enclosed. Similar ones
were also discovered at Dumpton in Broadstairs, on high ground east of
Sarre, on farmland at Monkton and at Shottendane Valley in Margate.
was probably occupied by the Celts between the period 600 - 325 BC,
Iron Age villages at Dumpton Gap and Broadstairs, with pots being found
The Romans occupied Britain during this time,
evidence of a Roman Villa at Tivoli Park has been found along with
evidence of 12 other Villas in Thanet.
King Vortigen of Kent invited the Jutes to help protect Kent from the Saxons and Franks Hengist and Horsa landed in 449 AD.
disappearance of the Celtic names from Thanet hints at mass slaughter
of the Romano-British population by the Jutes, which may help to
explain the large Anglo-Saxon burial ground at St. Peters.
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