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Kent Archaeological Review extract

News from the Groups.
by various contribitors.


DOVER By Doug Crellin.

The Dover dig took up most of our time until late in October.

We have, however, kept watch on a water pipeline between Sutton and Walmer which revealed three ditches containing medieval sherds, and on another water pipeline between Hougham and St Radigunds where we recorded Roman pits and ditches, medieval sherds and mesolithic tools.

On the site of the former Salem Chapel in the centre of Dover (TR 3217 4164) we recorded a layer of black alluvial mud which extended from natural brickearth (3 metres below street level) to the footings of Salem Chapel (2.5 metres below street level). The alluvial layer covered the whole site but beneath it, at the extreme north easterly end there was a green pebble/gravel layer (0.5 metres thick) from which a few sherds of Samian pottery were obtained.

Work on the Tilmanstone minewater pipeline is well advanced and to date we have recorded the following features:

  1. The Roman road near Updown.
  2. A medieval pit near Westwood House.
  3. A pit and two U-shaped ditches near Caesar's Camp.
  4. Two U-shaped medieval pits and a quantity of pot boilers between Caesar's Camp and Lark's Harmony.
  5. A grave disturbed by the mechanical digger near Lark's Harmony from which human remains and sherds were recovered.
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The CIB Corps has now completed its first year of operation as the first, full-time mobile rescue-unit in Britain, though certainly not the last. In just twelve months the team has dealt with 20 important sites in Kent (12 in West Kent and 8 in East Kent) and covered most of the 1500 square miles of the county. The work included a three month stint of urban archaeology right in the centre of Dover (Ralph Mills, KAR Number 30, page 294), both to complete the York Street by-pass and on the new town centre plan. These produced Neolithic occupation, Iron Age huts, Roman forts, Saxon domestic material, medieval town wall and buildings to name just a few.

Rather more than six months was spent on the Darent Valley Rescue Operation working ahead and with the contractors on a giant new sewer being laid from Farningham to Dartford. In consultation with the DOE and engineers we were able to re-route the sewer around the famous Darenth Roman villa (Howard Davies, KAR Number 29, page 267). At Horton Kirby we discovered a fine new Roman building only 15 hours ahead of the contractors, but last minute efforts and the CKA raising 1,300 saved the day and the sewer was moved 100 yards. The immediate rescue excavation revealed nearly all the structure (Brian Philp, KAR Number 30, page 301). At Farningham the traditional manor site revealed numerous masonry walls including one almost 14 feet thick, which identifies the site as that of Farningham Castle. Several other important Neolithic, Iron Age and Saxon sites were also located along the valley.

The Corps wishes to thank the many people who have helped to make our first year such a success. Firstly, to the Ancient Monuments Inspectorate for their full backing and considerable financial support. Next to Dover Corporation for its ready help and support. Also to the CKA for supplying tools and equipment and to the many Kent groups who have supported our various operations. Last but not least to more than 300 volunteers from all over the country who worked so hard on our many sites. The CIB is pleased to have been able to help in turn six Kent groups with various projects and we hope that this happy partnership can be maintained.

Just for the record our aims are:

  1. To deal with those emergencies beyond the resources of local groups (such as the Dover excavation).
  2. To try to cover those areas of Kent not adequately covered.
  3. To assist local groups where called upon to do so.

Our task is clearly very large and without the CKA rescue system and local groups it would be almost impossible. We invite all responsible volunteers and groups, dedicated to the cause of rescue in Kent, to give us their full support. This is a testing time for them and any thoughts of personal jealousies or politics must be banished from the scene.

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FAWKHAM and ASH By Roger Cockett.

Contact with the public is essential for all groups nowadays. Our displays at the village fetes in New Ash Green and Fawkham last spring were followed by open weekends at Scotsgrove medieval settlement in the summer and the series of monthly public winter lectures began in October. Our archaeological training scheme in Dartford is an outstanding success, with participants drawn from a wide area and keen new faces already appearing at our excavations.

Excavations this year have been mainly at Scotsgrove, near Hartley, where a sequence of medieval construction periods has taken shape, the old theory of a chapel has grown less tenable and rubbish pits still elude us. The site is now closed for the winter and we are working on the mud at New Ash Green where Roman features continue to emerge and Vovis Ltd continue to build. Renovation of the outwardly 18th century Court Lodge at Fawkham revealed an open hall house of about 1300; the opportunity was taken to make detailed plans and point out the significant features to the new owner.

On the civil engineering front, much survey work was done on the Darenth Valley Sewer project until we were interrupted. Surveillance on the Lullingstone road improvement took up most of June and July and resulted in a new Roman occupation site and a number of surface finds. Field surveys and trial excavations on our section of the M20 are now well under way and we have flown two photographic sorties along the route in a light aircraft.

The Research Centre at Fawkham continues to grow in facilities and comforts and is an excellent venue for parties. Our portable excavation shelter has proved to be a great morale booster despite becoming temporarily airborne in November. We look forward to whatever weather and fortunes the New Year may fling at us.

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MAIDSTONE By Paul Oldham.

The aerial survey section of the group has a full programme of observation and photography based on the requirements of our regional survey scheme and surveillance of potential sites, but still has found time to answer calls for help from other groups. The team, Don Jackson (pilot) and Barbara Comfort (photographer), has surveyed the routes of the M20 and M25 for the Fawkham and Ash and Otford groups recently. Experience has shown that, whilst the study of aerial photographs taken for road engineers may be useful, it is essential that motorway routes in particular should be studied from the air by archaeologists themselves.

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RECULVER By Howard Davies.

Since the last report (KAR 30, page 290), the group has gone into winter quarters -- in other words, caretaker weekends as and when necessary in and around the fort.

Some of our members are still working with the CIB group at Dover, while others are further afield. Urban archaeology demands work beyond the frontiers of Kent and one of our members is assisting with excavations in Essex.

Inter-regional communications should be extended and expanded as there is now a greater need than ever before for assistance in our neighbouring regional areas.

It is well known that members of the Springhead group for many years assisted with the extensive excavations at Mucking, just across the Thames in Essex. Members of CIB and the Sittingbourne group have also helped there.

Not so well known is the fact that a large majority of the members of most groups in Kent have participated on excavations throughout Britain and the continent over the last twenty years. This has been a truly magnificent effort to help others.

Now that regional and national archaeological organisations are being created throughout the country we must not miss the opportunity to assist and support them where we can. It is hoped that they, in their turn, will help us when the need arises.

Through this approach to archaeology on and beyond the Kentish borders we shall stride forward as a county which achieves much where legislation has, to a certain extent, failed. -- Chelmsford, November, 1972.

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The main event of the winter programme was the Open Day in the grounds of Holwood, Keston, at the beginning of October, which proved to be highly successful. In one day well over 2,000 visitors toured three sites within the 100 acres of Holwood Park. A queue had formed half an hour before the gates opened and by the afternoon the surrounding roads were suffering from traffic jams as cars queued to enter the grounds.

Visitors were able to see the recently excavated medieval tile-kiln. The structure is in an extremely good state of preservation and proved to be a highlight for the visitors. A section of the Iron Age hill fort, including the main entrance, was open too. Guides gave short talks about its construction and use. This is the first time that the hill-fort has been seen by members of the public and all were amazed that such a large and important field monument can still be seen in the borough of Bromley. Visitors were then taken to the outside of Holwood House (built 1828) where more guides related its history. Some local finds and photographs were on display and we are pleased to report that in six hours 240 copies of KAR, were sold.

Our thanks for this very successful day must first go to Seismograph Ltd for their kind co-operation and permission to stage this open day. Secondly, many members are thanked for all their hard work and help. In particular Messrs P Grant and D O'Sullivan are thanked for helping to organise the event; Mrs J Saynor, Mrs J Sussams, Dr W Soper and Messrs M Godfrey, J Sussams and I Whitting are to be congratulated on their lively talks about the various sites and Miss A Button, Mrs J Grozier, Mrs J Newbury, Mrs W Soper, Messrs R Gierth, J Halligan and T Woodman are especially thanked for ferrying large groups of people from site to site. At times parties of over 100 people were "ferried" from one site to another and wild stories about lost guides and one party heading for Tunbridge Wells circulated throughout the day. Proceeds were divided between a charity chosen by Seismograph Ltd and the Group. The open day proved not only an aid to raise funds, but a good boost to public relations.

Field work has not been neglected, of course. This season's work at Warbank, Keston, came to a close just before the winter weather really set in. Surveillance work continues and during the winter trial excavations and field surveys are taking place. Work on publication is now in its final stages and occupies the effort of all members and students. The public lectures in Bromley have proved to be over-subscribed and we would like to thank our speakers for their lively and interesting talks.

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