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LATEST: Volunteer finds rare medieval tile at Boxley dig site

Friday 30th April 2021

OUT of all the bizarre things one might encounter during an archaeological dig, a perfectly intact 13th century floor tile was probably not what one would have in mind.

Groundworker Craig Cope found the rare 13th century tile in the grounds at St Andrews, a former chapel and post office.

St Andrews, just off Boarley Lane, has sat empty for more than 50 years and was most recently used as a family home.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is in the process of bringing the building back to life.  

Fragments of 16th century stoneware has been found at the site before but the tile, which has been nicknamed ‘Craig’s Tile’, is the earliest find to date.

Lead archaeologist Graham Keevill said: “In a classic case of archaeological practice our one real find turned up with the very last act of excavation when our groundworker Craig came up to me and said ‘is this anything?’

“He’d asked me what sort of things I was looking for on the first day, and I’d described medieval encaustic tiles. My reaction when presented with the tile isn’t hard to guess.”

SPAB believe the discovery is the clue which links St Andrews to Boxley Abbey, which sits less than a quarter of a mile away.

SPAB director Matthew Slocombe said Boxley Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian monastic site, would have been a gatehouse chapel to the monastery.

Mr Slocombe added: “The find is so significant because of how remarkably well-preserved it is. It does not look like it has been used which makes us believe it fell of the back of a wheelbarrow or something on the way to the abbey, which has the exact same floor tiles inside.”