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Kent Archaeological Review extract

The Bromley Training School at Warbavk.

(West Kent Border.)

PHOTO: View of the excavations.


The second season of the training school run by the Group in conjunction with the Bromley and Beckenham Adult Education Centres started at Keston in May. The training lasted for eight weeks and supplemented twelve weeks of lectures during the winter months. Just over 100 students of all ages took part and these were divided into five teams depending on experience. In addition to two new "Beginners" teams, there were two "Advanced" teams and finally members of the West Kent Group. The work was under the control of Mr B Philp, assisted by Miss E Mynott, Mr G B Clewley, Mr D N Broadfoot and Mr J A Willson who acted as supervisors throughout the course. The excavation continued the work of the first training school which opened up the site in Lower Warbank Field in 1968 (KAR Number 14, page 8).

An area at the east end of the building found last year was excavated and this disclosed that the structure was in fact longer than shown by the 1854 excavations and divided internally rather differently from the Victorian plan. At least two periods of construction can be detected and beneath the building are large numbers of post-holes relating to earlier structures. Nearby, pits and gullies, some containing late Iron Age pottery, were located and these will require further examination.

The "Advanced" students and the West Kent Group opened up a grid covering 5,000 square feet on the western half of the site. This located another substantial masonry building, part of which was uncovered in 1854 and in 1951-3. Already it is clear that the earlier plans are inadequate in many respects and it is hoped that a complete overall plan will be recovered for the first time. More than 100 feet of the building appears in the area of excavation and it is clear that it extends some considerable distance on at least one side. A corridor, rooms and two "deep" rooms have so far been located. One of the "deep" rooms was probably hypocausted and the other may have been a small cellar. Traces of tessellated floors have also been found. The identity of this building has yet to be positively established, but it could be the main house of the villa complex to which the other wooden and masonry buildings, as also the monumental tombs nearby, related.

In addition to the information about the Roman buildings considerable information about the pre- Roman occupation of the site has now emerged. Beneath the Roman house are many pits and post-holes containing pottery of Iron Age date. It is hoped that as work continues, outlines of huts and other structures will emerge. Equally important is a large rectangular ditched enclosure which has also produced an important group of Iron Age pottery. The precise relationship of all these new features has yet to be worked out, but it now seems clear that the site was occupied continuously for a period of at least six centuries. The presence of the vast hillfort in Holwood Park, only half a mile from the site, is not without significance and the Iron Age aspects of the Warbank site rank equally with the Roman studies. After nearly three years of work at Keston it is clear that the sites are very much more extensive than previously supposed. Although spectacular finds have so far not been forthcoming the work is likely to make an important contribution to our knowledge of West Kent in early times.

In June and July half of the Group joined the emergency excavation at Darenth only ten miles from Keston. Work at Keston continued without a break under the direction of Mr G B Clewley assisted by supervisors. Other members joined in the Reculver excavations in August and work was resumed on an increased scale in early September.

The Group gratefully acknowledges the support of Mr Lockley Cook and of people in the Keston area. The site is due to be destroyed by road-works sometime in the future and is ideal for the purposes of training. In late September more than 3,000 visitors were given guided tours of the site.

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