HAVING wielded a metal detector for 15 years, a builder finally struck lucky when he stumbled across an Iron Age burial ground.
Steve Blair, of Heaverham Road in Kemsing, has a passion for history and archaeology and had always hoped to uncover artefacts more significant than his usual finds of Victorian pennies.
His luck changed when his detector found three cremation urns dating back to the late Iron Age and early Roman period.
His once-in-a-lifetime find led to professional archaeologists uncovering 19 more.
Mr Blair made the discovery after the field was dug up by South East Water for a new pipeline.
He said: “The archaeologists are excited because nothing like this has been discovered between Otford Mount and Oldbury Hill.
“I’d been out for 20 minutes and then the metal detector sounded off and I started to look.
“I found the edge of the first one and I cleaned around it and I noticed the white bone inside. Then I called the archaeologists.”
A team from the Kent Archaeological Project spent more than a week turning up more urns, and was due to finish yesterday.
In one case they found what are believed to be two urns next to each other, one with pointed edges and the other curved, with a pot for perfume nearby.
The team believe it could be the remains of a husband and wife.
A brooch was found next to another urn.
Tim Allen, director of the archaeological group, said: “The most interesting thing is it’s probably quite a big burial ground and when there is a big burial ground there is a big settlement near.”
While some of the urns crumbled when uncovered, others remained intact and will be opened in a laboratory.
“All sorts of things end up in these urns, but there probably will just be bone – nothing of financial value,” said Mr Allen.
The cremated remains must be reinterred but the pots will be glued together and stored.
Mr Blair said the experience had been fascinating.
“I’ve been doing this land since 1987 and you find Roman coins not of any value all over the place,” he said. “If you find a coin 2,000 years old and you are the first person to touch it – that’s the excitement.”
South East Water said its 1.4km long pipeline will reinforce the water supply between Kemsing Water Treatment Works and Oak Bank Reservoir in Chart.
A spokesman said: “On schemes such as this we take the precaution of having archaeologists working alongside.”