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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Operation Motorways.
by Brian Philp.
(CKA Rescue Officer, Kent regional Officer for RESCUE.)


With the many miles of new motorway soon to be built in Kent the CKA has organised the preliminary work through its various local groups. This has involved compilation of lists of adjacent sites and field-walking over threatened areas. This work has proved to be within the scope of even the smallest local group and required only simple organization. It is likely that when work starts the grading- machines, working in concert, may well be shifting over 10,000 tons of soil each week and there is a real danger that extensive and complete archaeological sites could be removed without trace in a matter of two or three hours. This phase of the work will require a full-time team of archaeologists.

Motorway M20.

The west end of this route has been walked by members of the West Kent Group assisted by the CIB Group, under my direction. The local farmer has readily agreed to trial exvacations as appropriate. The Fawkham Group was asked to walk the eastern section of this route.

South Orbital Motorway.

The length of this short route has been walked by the Cray Antiquarian Group, under the direction of John Parsons, during the winter months. Although much of general interest was found, Mr Parsons reports that no new sites were located.

Motorway 25.

The eastern section of this route has been walked by members of the Otford Group, under the direction of John Pyke, over the past year. Mr Pyke has reported that so far no new sites have been located. The western section of this route has been covered several times by members of the West Kent Group, under my direction, over the past two years. Much of the route follows the disused Westerham railway, which has been recorded in detail and photographed. More work is planned.


The most pressing problem to face Surrey this year has been the need for archaeological rescue work in advance of the construction of the M23 and M25 motorways. Until work on the motorways started, surveying and excavation was undertaken under the auspices of Surrey Archaeological Society by volunteers and local groups. It was considered that as soon as the main construction work was under way the day-by-day observing and recording would have to be undertaken by full-time archaeologists. From March 1st, 1972, Mr Harvey Sheldon's free-lance group has been employed by Surrey Archaeological Society, with the support of the Department of the Environment, to do this work.
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