Skip to Content.

Kent Archaeological Review extract

The South East London Border.
by Dan Jones.

The London Boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham fall into a vacuum between the London and the Kent Societies, and, possibly as a result, archaeology is poorly served in the area. There are no experienced clubs and no hard core of diggers.

However, with the help of Mr P Tester, FSA, and a timely desire on the part of certain Lewisham Societies to co-operate more closely, three rescue excavations have been started during 1968/9 and it is to be hoped that this will arouse some local interest in a mixed area which is being subjected to a great deal of road works and re-building.

Woodbine Cottage, North Cray Road.

The plan reported earlier in the Review (Number 12 page 18) to take down the Hall House in North Cray Road, Bexley, has been completed and work on the foundations was carried out by a mixed group of KAS members, Lewisham Local History Society members and local volunteers advertised for in local libraries.

The foundations of two walls of an earlier building were found under the South East part of the cottage; these are flints and pebbles set in clay. There are fragments of Developed St Neot's ware (1050-1150), late 13th Century sagging based cooking pots, a little German painted pottery of the same date, and mussel, oyster and cockle shells.

Sadly, the dwarf flint foundation walls of the cottage itself were found to be underpinnings of Georgian date as is the gun-flint and musket ball from inside the building.

To the South (the front) of the cottage the ground had been cleared to the clay circa 1740-50 and a flint and gravel yard put down. As well as a few 17th Century items this yard produced a mass of material from the early 18th including English porcelain (mostly Bow) and some fine white salt glazed pottery, plus delftware, glass etc. From here and the site as a whole a range of clay tobacco pipes from the late 16th- 19th Centuries has been found.

The coins include a late groat of Henry VIII, two farthings of Charles I, a halfpenny of Charles II and a number of Georgian halfpennies; there are three Nurenberg tokens of circa 1580 (two of which were minted for use in Venice! ) and a number of 18th Century lead tokens, one being dated 1766.

On the day proposed as the last for excavations, a feature came to light which had avoided earlier trenches by a literal inch. This has grown into a circular shaft (diameter 6 foot by 6 foot 6 inches) with perpendicular sides, now nearly seven feet deep and going strong, and this may provide the stratified pottery which has eluded us so far.

Pool river, Bellingham and Bronze Street, Deptford.

In another move towards closer co-operation, the Lewisham Local History Society Study Group and the Lewisham Natural History Society decided to jointly excavate the Roman Road to Lewes said to run across a field on the East bank of the Pool River at Bellingham (TQ 372723). This was due to be destroyed by river works carried out by the GLC It was hoped to confirm the route of the road and to examine the point where the river and road crossed.

So far, only slight traces of the possible road have been found but the topsoil has yielded a number of flint flakes of a Mesolithic or Secondary Neolithic character. There are blades, bladelets, several small cores and many struck flakes, a few having light retouch.

Close to the route of the road a cremation was found in the shattered remains of a large patchgrove storage jar decorated with a row of incised dots around the shoulder and another around the waist. Two small Samian bowls seem to have been associated with the burial.

At 120 feet from the road a shallow ditch running obliquely towards it was found. This contains later Roman coarse ware and a large number of unmortared tile fragments including one piece of box flue tile.

Work is continuing in the hope of completing the original tasks and of finding more evidence of the early occupation and the origin of the material in the ditch.


Bronze Street, Deptford,

the site of a 19th Century pottery kiln has been cleared by the GLC before rebounding. Documentary evidence points to a 17th Century kiln on the same site. As a result, the Lewisham groups above, again with the aid of Mr Tester, were faced with a second rescue operation two weeks after starting their first.

Work is progressing very slowly due to the amount of industrial overburden (including the local children!) and the need to plan the various 19th Century features which have come to light.

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