This article appeared in the Summer 1974 (Issue #36) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
Permission should be sought from the Honorary editor (in writing) to reproduce or quote from articles in the K A R.
The CKA and the Honorary Editor are not responsible for opinions and statements expressed by contributors to the K A R.
A Medieval Kiln Site, at Tyler Hill, Canterbury.
This site (NGR TR 143 605) lies in an open field in the parish of Tyler Hill Kent about half a mile south-east of the village centre. It occupies a strip of ground about 40 feet wide across the west end of a field flanking the east side of Canterbury Hill. The site is thus bounded by a small stream on the north side and the hedgerow on the south side, the two being about 240 feet apart (Figure 3). It is situated on north facing slope on London Clay at an elevation of about 150 feet OD. The kiln lay at the edge of this area being lift. from the centre of the south hedge and 81 feet from the centre of Canterbury Hill to the west.
The presence of extensive medieval waster material here was first noted by the writer in 1965 after deep-ploughing had thrown up potsherds, roof tile and fragments of floor tiles. A sample of this material was then collected and the site kept under observation. A gaspipe had in fact been laid right through the site in about 1964. but the material then recovered by local collectors remains unpublished. In August 1967 the farmer opened up a narrow drainage-trench on the downhill side of the south hedge and in the process cut through an incomplete medieval tile-kiln. A limited rescue-excavation was then carried out by members of the Reculver (CIB) Excavation Group and part of the plan recovered. At the same time more material was recovered from the surface of the field. Of all this unstratified material only the floor tiles are published here and the pottery has been retained so that it can form part of a more comprehensive study. It is important to repeat that the floor tiles published here were not found in the kiln examined!
The writer wishes to thank Mr F Stevens for his ready permission to carry out the excavation and members of the Reculver Group who undertook the work. Members of the West Kent Group kindly prepared the drawings of the tiles and Misses A. Borthwick and W. Dolphin kindly completed the plans. Mrs C Batchellor undertook some research into the floor tile patterns and Mrs E M Philp has kindly typed the text.
The limited rescue-excavation revealed that the kiln lay on a broadly north-south axis and that the drainage trench had removed the southern end (Figure 4). The north end had been robbed leaving only about four feet of the centre of the kiln intact. The kiln was of the double chambered type, a pattern familiar over much of the country on medieval sites. In Kent alone kilns of this type occur at Hartley, See Footnote  Addington, See Footnote  Keston See Footnote  and again at Tyler Hill See Footnote . It seems probable that this new kiln was stoked from the north side having been cut about two feet below ground level in medieval times.
In detail the east chamber was three feet four inches wide; the central spine wall about eight inches wide; the west chamber two feet eight inches wide, with the side walls being about fourteen-sixteen inches thick. The total internal width was thus six feet eight inches and the overall width nine feet two inches. The original length could not be determined, but this should be greater than the width and was probably ten to fourteen feet overall. The length at Hartley was fourteen feet and at Keston about twenty-one feet. The side and spine walls were constructed of broken roof tile fragments set in clay and survived to a maximum height of only twelve inches. The chamber floors were of clay baked to a cindery texture and apparently not relaid. On the flanks of the east chamber were traces of two vertical piers built of small purpose-made bricks. Twenty of these were found lying across the chamber, each measuring about six by five and a half inches by one and a half inches thick. It seems that these piers probably supported low arches similar to those on many of the other Kentish kilns. These arches normally formed the floor of the kiln itself on which the products were stacked to be fired.
The kiln chambers were filled with fragments of tile and burnt clay from the collapsed walls. Nothing was found inside the structure to suggest what was fired in it, though quantities of waster roof tiles, pottery and floor tiles were found in the general vicinity.
THE FLOOR -- TILE FRAGMENTS.
A total of 45 fragments of glazed floor tiles was recovered from the field surface north of the kiln. Several seem to be certain wasters and as they were all found in association with large quantities of pottery wasters and on a kiln site it is highly probable that they were made here too, though not necessarily in the excavated kiln. Of these nearly all have traces of a printed pattern, but only 18 are illustrated. The tiles are mostly 0.7 inches thick and the three with sides intact are all 4.3 inches in width. In all probability these represent small square tiles many with slightly chamfered edges. The infilled slip is generally white clay with strong yellow and green tints. The fabric is hard with little grit or sand, the core often grey and the surface orange-red. If all these are wasters, as the evidence strongly suggests they are, then the following types may fairly be said to have been manufactured on this site.
TYLER HILL TYPES (Figures 1 & 2).
Type 1 Two fragments with chamfered sides and design of large lis with trefoiled fronds. (Faversham Type 90).
Type 2 Two fragments with chamfered sides and design of large lis without fronds, but with spatulate central petal and border. (Faversham Type 91).
Type 3 Fragment with chamfered side and design of double headed imperial eagle in border. (Faversham Type 93).
Type 4 Fragment with chamfered side and design of sixfoil in double medallion and probably with a central annulet and trefoils in corner. (Faversham Type 97 and at Whitefriars, Sandwich).
Type 5 Fragment with chamfered side and lobed quadrant design with intertwined oak leaves and branches. (Faversham Type 94 and at Baynard's Castle).
Type 6 Fragment with chamfered side and design of dentate leaf cross in four arcs enclosing angle rosettes. (Faversham Type 95 and Greyfriars, Canterbury).
Type 7 Five fragments with chamfered sides and design of an ogee quartrefoil in angles (Faversham Type 96 and St Augustine's, Canterbury).
Type 8 Fragment with chamfered side and quadrant design with pattern of quatrefoil and circles containing Hs and grotesque animals. (Faversham Type 100).
Type 9 Fragments with chamfered side and quadrant design with birds of foliage. (Faversham Type 98).
Type 10 Fragment with straight side and stylised foliage and saltires on arc. (Faversham Type 99, St Mary's, Sandwich and Christ Church, Canterbury).
Type 11 Fragment with chamfered side and design of lis in double arc. Quadrant design. Perhaps the same design as Type 8 above.
Type 12 Fragment with chamfered side with a geometrical design of a square within a double lozenge. (Faversham Type 102).
Type 13 Fragment with vertical side and series of sixfoils probably within an arc. Similar to an unillustrated tile from Faversham Abbey.
Type 14 Fragment with chamfered side and series of roundels, perhaps with interlocking arcs.
Type 15 Fragment with interlocking oak leaf design. Perhaps the same design as Type 5 above.
Type 16 Fragment with chamfered side and possible cruciform design.
Type 17 Fragment probably with quatrefoils in arcs.
Type 18 Fragment with chamfered sides and heraldic design consisting of linked chevrons and perhaps grotesque animal.