Antoinette, under the guidance of her father, would have developed an interest in archaeology at an early age. As a child she enjoyed beachcombing for fossils on Epple Bay, Birchington. Her formal education complete, Tony spent two years as a volunteer at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford working under Henry Balfour, a renowned curator. Here she would have handled both archaeological and ethnographic artefacts. Tony then made three collecting trips to Africa, one with her father to Zululand and when she was 23 two trips to Angola with her sister, Diana, to collect ethnographical and botanical material.
Back at Quex Park in 1938 she assisted Jimmy Beck, a 14 year old school boy, in excavating 8 Late Iron Age, [L.I.A.] pits that he had found on the foreshore at Minnis Bay, Birchington. Her most memorable find, in pit 3, was a complete New Forest type two-handled jug with flowing decoration in slip on the shoulder and bulge.
It was about this time that Jimmy Beck also made the significant find of the large Bronze hoard to the west of these pits [now stored at the British Museum]. Tony’s involvement with archaeology stopped with the outbreak of the war in 1939. However in 1955 with the encouragement of the British Museum she resumed excavating at Minnis Bay and continued to do so until the late 1970s.
Tony’s ‘blog’ for May 1965 continues with cell 11 of pit N, the large Early Iron Age, [EIA], pit on the east bank of the old creek and the creating of cells 12 to 18, [see April for explanation]. Amongst the usual finds of flint and pot sherds, was part of a skull of a cow and some large pieces of wood. Also Tony found another well that eventually became significant to Tony and to us!!
Saturday 1st May
Cell 11 in evening. Rain threatened, only with Dorothy and joined by Denise P + niece, art student, parents from India relatives of Dr. Sloane’s wife. A very few scraps pot and bone – one fair sized ?stake left in situ. Fill very sticky grey above then dark brown chalk flecked and black flecked presumably ash – leak via wood on Dorothy’s corner.
Sunday 2nd May
5. 30 – 8.30 with Dorothy and Denise – male with moustache looked on, was it he who brought horse bones to PC museum from Grenham ‘grave’ near cliff. Streatham boy came to say goodbye. Wood in corner of cell 11 is branched and there is another curved narrower beneath this running to the other corner, above which was part of a skull of cow – I think 2 horns frontlet – nose broken off. Very close to this is the boulder of cell 10.
Monday 3rd May
Added chalk. Looked at peat in F.F. Pit Y getting silted up but still shows. Collected 1[flint] flake from blue grey beneath oak peaty F.F.
Tuesday 4th May
Added chalk and prepared cell 12. Rained at midday. 2 small gritty red top, black inside sherds from surface. ?old Med hole 45 paces to prom covered and flint filled.
Wednesday 5th May
Scratched a little in cell 12 but did not go down as far as the edge of fill showed diagonally across the cell ?stuck to the bottom were two small pieces of sandstone. The chalk stained yellowish – some chalk peas and original silt showing around the stones of flint, chalk etc. Used the little pick to dislodge them a bit – v. tough along the bottom slopes down to the muddy silt fill. Prepared another cell 13 and dug into this a little – very white. ? chalky dryish silt and brownish patchy layer below – looks as if water laid. No finds from here yet.
Thursday 6th May
With Dorothy cell 13 narrow 1foot deep. Fill whiteish sticky silt above brownish mud below. Rusty chalky thin crust few inches below sea end. Large piece wood – v. few scraps pot and bone only – Rather smelly.
Friday 7th May
Collected chalk and prepared cell 14. Looked at undug new hole near stack now covered with sand. [probably Well30 next to a cliff chalk stack eroded by sea action ]