Skip to Content.

Kent Archaeological Review extract

Belgic Site at Detling, near Maidstone.
by J W F Edwards.

The discovery of Belgic ditches at Detling during a field survey of a gas main trench was mentioned in a previous issue (KAR Number 11, page 7). The site lies southwest of Detling village and comes within 30 feet of the main Maidstone to Sittingbourne road. Geographically it is at the northern end of a small spur of chalk which runs south-west for 1 mile from the main Chalk escarpment. The site is a likely one for settlement: the natural vegetation on this spur is much lighter than on the surrounding Gault Clay and the ground much flatter than the rest of the Chalk escarpment. In addition, the spring line at the base of the Lower Chalk lies next to the site. The prehistoric trackway, called the Pilgrim's Way, runs 700 yards to the north. There are no other known contemporary sites in the vicinity. A possible course of the main ditch is shown in the plan. The Belgic ditch appears to end at A or turn sharply south. The ditch had been dug into the natural subsoil consisting of material derived from the Chalk but without any pieces of solid rock. I have referred to it as "chalk sludge". For the most part, however, the ditches were filled with a reddish clay which exists naturally as a thin layer under the topsoil, and does not seem to have accumulated in the trench by silting. In some places the bottom of the ditch was filled with thin layers of "chalksludge" separated by layers of reddish clay. This represents rapid silting within a couple of years of being dug. Between A and E the ditch is 6 feet deep but shallows to 4 feet between D and F.

DIAGRAM: Plan of Belgic Site at Detling.

Figure 2. Plan of Belgic Site at Detling.

Of special interest was an 11 foot stretch running west from B, where the bottom of the ditch was covered by a thin layer of charcoal and broken pottery. Along almost the whole distance between C and D there was a distinct rubbish layer, 1½ feet thick, containing animal bones, oyster shells and pottery sherds.

Seventy feet east of F the gas main trench cut perpendicularly through another ditch, which was in the form of an open V, 3 feet 10 inches deep and 10 feet wide at the top, dug into the natural "chalk sludge" and filled with a mixture of "chalk sludge" and brown clay. More disturbances were noted further on but only one, 127 feet east of F, produced dating evidence. In a shallow ditch, one foot deep and 8 inches wide at the top, was a piece of pot rim, probably Belgic in date.

Most of the potsherds found came from the un-stratified material already excavated by the mechanical trench digger. Examination shows them to be mainly Belgic in character with a few early Romano-British sherds. The exact nature of the site must remain undecided until a fuller examination has been made. A detailed plan and sections of the exposed feature in the sides of the gas main trench have been made, and it is hoped will be published in a future edition of Arch. Cant.

Close Window
Accessed this page via search engine or bookmark? Full K A R Index here.