This article appeared in the Winter 1969 (Issue #18) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Otford's Busy Year.
Work on the Romano-British settlement near Frog Farm, Otford, continued on a limited scale during the winter of 1968/69 until the owners decided to sell off the land in small plots. During our last day on the site a section of an apparent boundary ditch was discovered on the western side. If so, it is the first indication of the extent of the settlement, thought to be agricultural and to have been occupied in the first to fourth centuries AD.
The Group carried out a proton magnetometer survey of a field at St. Mary's Platt (TQ 621566), which, due to the vast surface scatter of wasters, was thought likely to have been a kiln site for Wrotham pottery (KAR Number 14 page 13). No anomalies were detected in the survey, and test holes revealed no features. Undulations in a nearby but inaccessible orchard suggest, however, that the kiln might yet be at hand. Numerous sherds, mainly of coarse cooking pots, were found with several variations of form. No traces of decorated ware were discovered. The Group wish to thank the owners, Mr and Mrs P F Geliot, for their kind co-operation.
Permission was obtained from the owner to investigate the site of a reputed Roman watermill at Springhead, Kemsing (TQ 543586) which was excavated in 1949 (unpublished). The building was situated in a small steep-sided declivity in which flowed a small stream, but since that date the stream has been piped, and the entire valley filled in with rubble, rubbish and other debris. The site is now a grass field.
We opened test-holes, and layer one provided a consolidated layer of 20th century finds, notably tin cans, oil drums, tree stumps and coils of wire. At a depth of four feet (not 15 feet as a gloomy "local" predicted) a section of ragstone walling was located. No stratification was discovered and the hole quickly filled with water. Further investigation was delayed pending the repair of a local JCB, as it was considered that a disproportionate amount of time and effort was being spent in unproductive earth-moving.
In the meantime, permission was sought, and obtained, to explore the environs of a quarry at Sundridge in which RB remains had been reported. A series of test-holes have been dug over the remaining hill-side, which had been largely quarried away, but no positive evidence has been found to date. This exploration has been halted temporarily in favour of a limited dig in a private garden on the site of Otford Palace. This has shed new light on the medieval manor house which preceeded the Tudor Archbishops' palace. A report is in course of preparation.