George Payne


George Payne


It’s not too much to say that through his painstaking labours some lost pages in history of extinct civilisations have been recovered, however this is entitled to an honourable niche in the archaeological Valhalla.

As a young lad he was introduced to Charles Roach Smith. Roach Smith was perhaps foremost authority on Roman and Saxon remains in England at that time. He seems at once to of casts spell over the young George Payne, who from that moment became an ardent disciple of Roach Smith then devoted friend. In 1870 he took a leading part in the Kent Archaeological Society’s first meeting at Sittingbourne. Nothing escaped his notice. The distance was too great, and hour was too inconvenient.

In the porch of East Gatehouse, Rochester, a tablet to his memory was erected, with the following inscription:-

              “This tablet is erected by the citizens of Rochester and by his friends, and grateful memory of George Payne, FSA, born 1848, died 1920; an eminent antiquary and the famous discovery of Roman and Saxon remains in this county. He was the first director of this museum which was chiefly by his labours founded, equipped and arranged, and for over 20 years in his seal for this 18 city he splendidly managed office.”



Entries in George Payne’s Notebooks

(transcribed by Cliffe-at-Hoo Historical Society)


Cliffe marshes (Nine Elms Cement works).

In January 1908 I secured the Rochester Museum 23 vases and patera described on the next page (below). They were found in Roman gravel company in the skaters had disposed it is now impossible to say as the vessels were simply put aside when met with, I my informant, whom I purchased them was able to give me much information. He states that several of the small arm shaped vases were filled with splinters of bone. In one I found  remains of roebuck or small deer which seemed to have been burnt. This may indicate animals were cremated at the obsequies and the ashes of them placed in vases and deposited with the dead. After I paid a visit to the site some further light may be thrown on this remarkably perfect and interesting lot of vessels.


On visiting the site of these discoveries, I found that extensive excavations had been made in the Marsh contiguous to Francis cement works. The alluvium reached depths of some 20 feet, in close proximity to the sea wall the southern side of the Thames at this point. From the presence of these graves it may be safely affirmed that the River was embankment long previously to the deferments which proves that the Roman embankment of the Thames, for we can hardly suppose that they would have chosen a spot to place their dead that was submerged for every tide. The other instances of internments occurring in the marshes are those met with by C E Woodruff and myself at Ham Green, Upchurch 1894.


Cliffe Marshes.

In November I was able to add to the following further series of objects to those referred to.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Kent Archaeological Society

Reproduced by kind permission of the Kent Archaeological Society

The Roman pottery found and recorded by George Payne.


A man named Humphries brings the gold coin (B. C.) Which he states was found by a lad in a Plantation at Hoo. I sent it to St John Evans describes it as a common type. The coin is very XXX has the usual rough figure for horse with one or two letters over it. So John has cited coins from Hoo in his ABC and I have a suspicion that this coin was one of the same hoard.

May 1902


Hoo Creek. Hoo

Mr West of Strood report is discovery of next and other fragments of Roman vessels, in situ, along the edge of the saltings. He brought several for my inspection. Arranged to visit the spot .

December 1890


Hoo (High Halstow south-east of Egypt Bay)

Mr Henry Pye, of St Mary’s Hall gave me a portion of large Roman own, and fragments of another vessel found in the above parish on January 2, 1901 when cutting a new ditch about 20 yards in the Marsh from the river wall, 6 feet below surface, in solid earth. This pottery is precisely the same as that from the Upchurch marshes and may indicate that there were potteries on the Western side of the Medway also. I’ve long suspected that this was so, but as yet there has been no direct evidence to prove it.



Stoke, Hoo

The Rev Cleare Warne reports discovery along the shore at Stoke of a flint weapon this unusual and I look forward to seeing the specimen in a few days.

January 1901


I have secured the above; the large Mesolithic Celt of Black Flint marked with dark green markings and is almost perfect. It was found in the parish of Allhallows in front of the Slough Fort and was probably washed out of the riverbank.

Stoke Marshes, Hoo.

Mr Alfred Brice of Rainham, Kent, reports discovery of Roman sepulchral deposits on land in occupation of his brother George Brice. In the autumn of 1889 he brought me two or three of the urns, but asked so much for them I declined to purchase. They were afterwards sold to the Rev CE Woodruff of Preston, Faversham, who of them to the Kent Archaeological Society, the council declined for the want of room. I therefore bought them and of them to Mr George Arnold who accepted.


Hoo. (Tea Pot Hall.)

Mr AA Arnold reports discovery of fragments of pottery and bones on Mr Walterr Miskin’s land. A piece of pottery he showed me appeared to be pre-Roman.

Second of March 1890.


Hoo-ness Marsh

1912 14th of May.

During the erection of the sea wall, on the river front opposite door, by the Chatham Dockyard authorities several Roman interments were met with about 3 feet below the level of the Marsh consisting of cinerary , urns, classes fragments of pseudo Samian ware, the been in an excellent state of preservation. This marsh lies opposite Hoo St Werburgh in our south westerly direction about a mile from the church. The saltings are bounded to the north creeks dividing them from the mainland, on the west by Short Reach, the South by Gillingham Reach and on the East by Pinup Reach, all reaches of the Medway. During the operation, through the kindness of my friend Mr HL Oakley, Superintending Civil Engineer of the dockyard, every facility was afforded me of watching the excavation, but despite of every precaution the pottery was removed the locality whose past historical discoveries illustrated. As the work proceeded clear indications were noticed of an earlier Marsh level far below that now showing either a change in the level of the land in these parts or to an increase in the title influence of the River Medway.