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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Report --
Sittingbourne and Swale Archaeological Research Group.
by H P Mills.

Our most important activity during the winter months was the launching of a scheme by which we hope to keep the whole of our area under constant surveillance. With thirty-five parishes to look at, and fewer than twenty members able and willing to do the looking, this had always seemed an impossible task, but given the necessary enthusiasm on the part of our volunteers we think we may now have found the answer.

Briefly, what we have done is to appoint an observer for each of our parishes. Each observer is supplied with index-cards showing the archaeological sites in his particular parish and he agrees to keep these under regular observation. He also agrees to keep a close watch on any work in the parish which might lead to chance discoveries. Cards have been printed for him to distribute as he goes about, explaining what we are interested in, why we are interested and how we may be contacted. If the observers do their job few pieces of archaeological news should escape us.

Some parish observers have an additional function, having agreed to keep an eye on scheduled buildings so that early warning can be given of any threat of damage or destruction.

To begin with, several volunteers are each responsible for two parishes, and in this way most of our area has been covered. The gaps are being filled for the moment by a few enthusiasts with bicycles or motor-cars, but obviously the ideal is for each observer to live in his parish and be thoroughly familiar with it. There is an opportunity here for those whose digging days are over, and for those- who perhaps have a liking for history and the countryside without a keen interest in formal archaeology. One of our first members to volunteer was, in fact, a busy local doctor. We found this very encouraging.

Apart from some useful field-work, and assisting at Faversham and elsewhere, our only other winter activity of note was the staging of an archaeological exhibition at Sittingbourne's new Town Hall. This was seen by more than 700 people. Besides our own exhibits we were also able to show material from Upchurch which had been lent to us through the kindness of Mr Alec Miles of the Lower Medway Group.

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