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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Industrialised Archaeology at Snodland.
by M A Ocock and M J Syddell.

Work at Snodland (see Kent Archaeological Review Number 4) in the grounds of the SEGB Gas Holder Station and an adjacent factory, began in September, 1964, as a tidying-up operation. Two years later it is obvious that there is still more of the Romano-British buildings waiting to be uncovered. Almost a year's excavation work by the Lower Medway Archaeological Research Group succeeded in covering an area which was later, either destroyed, built over, or masked by reinforced concrete. After finishing we continued to maintain the very close contact we had enjoyed with the management of the factory (The Lead Wool Co. Ltd.) where further remains were believed to exist. Every square-inch of ground which isn't yet built upon, is excavated when conditions permit, and all construction work is being followed very closely by the archaeologist and the workmen! In fact a plan of our 1964-65 discoveries is to be exhibited in the factory canteen, with an eye to the employees' education in things that matter.

During three weekends in July and August last year, whilst the factory was on it annual holiday, we were able to dig very close to the site of our earlier work and explore some new ground.

Briefly, the results showed that the long roof or corridor, which had formed Period 3 (date circa 250-75 AD) of our Romano-British building, had continued almost to the wall of the factory without turning as had been previously assumed. Foundations of what may have been a screen or boundary wall continued on the line of the corridor, but further investigation was prevented by the foundations of the factory and an electricity cable so the exact purpose of the wall remains a mystery. Besides the usual external paving, which had been met with elsewhere on the site, a chalk floor, and what could have been a wall to a veranda, were met with on the south-east side of the corridor. Unfortunately modern disturbances had caused a great deal of damage in the area and confused the situation even more than usual!

Various accounts were heard of a stone coffin which had been discovered over thirty years ago. The coffin, which was presumed to have been Roman, had contained a skeleton that was later given to the Royal College of Surgeons museum. The whereabouts of the coffin had never been recorded, but it now appears that the lid was used as a step in the factory and the remainder of the coffin broken up.

According to another employee whose father had helped to build the Baptist Chapel (now the factory canteen) which is close to the site, Roman foundations were met with during the construction of the chapel. Because of this, one last trench was dug in a piece of open ground near the road and the chapel during the July excavations of this year. A wall, apparently Roman in date, was found. Once again further excavations are contemplated!

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