This article appeared in the Autumn 1974 (Issue #37) 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.
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News from the Groups.
KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESCUE UNIT (CIB) by Edna Mynott.
By a unanimous decision the CIB committee has now formally adopted the
name Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit having used it informally for many years.
This is to avoid further confusion about the scope and functions of the group whose
activities include survey, excavation, training, conservation, processing, publication
and open-days throughout the whole County. This is done with our large team of
enthusiastic full-time and part-time members drawn from Kent and beyond and with
the support and backing of many responsible local groups and individuals.
The first six months of 1974 have again been particularly busy with many projects and excavations, many of these on behalf of the Department of the Environment
and with the assistance of the Kent County Council. In June four teams were excavating simultaneously on different sites the length of Kent demonstrating the
effectiveness of the programme and flexibility and mobility of the team. Only three
major projects are listed below:
The team dealing with urban-archaeology completed two major sites from
January to May, mostly in shocking weather conditions, west of the Market Square.
These revealed considerable details of the Saxon Shore fort defences including another
substantially complete bastion and the internal arrangements. The east wall of the
underlying Classis Britannica fort was also located and the front part of a monumental
gatehouse revealed. In June the team opened up two more major sites, one in the
Roman harbour area east of Bench Street and the other north of Taveners Lane, where
At the end of March, 1974 the Unit was specifically invited by
to carry out a sudden major rescue-excavation on the site of Otford Palace.
Preliminary work by the Otford Group at weekends during February and early March
had shown that substantial walls existed in the area, but on 11th March the area was
taken over for building purposes and drastic site-levelling and foundation work began.
Half of the Dover team was quickly switched to Otford with the mobile recording
units and in six weeks of fulltime work the project was completed. Large areas of the
south and east ranges of the Tudor Palace, together with the moat, an intricate system
of latrines and sewers and a massive south-east tower were recorded and totally excavated.
Two days before the builders dead-line a special 'Open Day' attracted 2,456
visitors in 7 hours for free guided tours, an operation which required 59 stewards,
marshals, guides and excavators. The response was almost total and the enthusiasm
and concern of so many Kentish people was then loudly expressed.
Within three days the Sevenoaks District Council had agreed to purchase the
site from the builder and the DOE readily agreed to make a substantial grant to-
wards the cost of purchase. The Unit was then able to backfill, level and seed the site
and a detailed report is in preparation. The team wishes to acknowledge the help of
98 volunteers and so many local groups who helped make this dramatic rescue-situation
such a huge success. Particular thanks must be offered to the Dover, Reculver, Sittingbourne, Springhead, West Kent and Otford groups for their help. We also wish to
acknowledge the enlightened attitude of the Sevenoaks District Council and the DOE
for their prompt action over the purchase of the site.
Kent Motorway Programme.
The initial survey and trial-excavation on the Dartford-Swanley Link road were
completed in April by the motorway team. No sites at all were previously known on
this route, but this work has since produced evidence for 9 probable sites. Two of these
have been given priority because of their importance and since substantially excavated.
Several others will be examined both before and during the road-construction process
and a careful patrol maintained.
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SPRINGHEAD By Syd Harker.
Activity at Springhead has been concentrated recently on the examination of
three specific features. The first is the junction of the recently proved temenos road
and the major road through this part of the settlement which is yielding information
on the chronology of the various surfaces. A large pit underneath the temenos road
is also being examined "in depth" -- 16 feet to be precise. The other area concerns
the wide ditch which we hope may have some military connotations. Some complicating factors have arisen which suggest the possibility of an entrance at this point.
This makes it necessary to extend the digging area.
This in a way is unfortunate since we had hoped to clear up the situation by
the end of June, when arrangements have been made for the Group to shift their
main activity to another site for three months. Subject to final approval now awaited
from the Authority concerned, we shall be investigating, prior to building development, a hypocaust building at Chalk to the east of Gravesend. It was first noted in
1959 but only preliminary work was carried out at the time, sufficient to indicate
the presence of a fairly substantial structure.
Work will be carried out mainly at week-ends between the 30th June and the
end of September but there will be a continuous period of digging between the 4th
and 18th August inclusive. This means that usual Open Days at Springhead will not
take place this year. It is possible, however, that developments at Chalk may enable us
to put on a show there. This remains to be seen, so please watch out for an announcement.
Finally, I would be pleased to hear from any experienced diggers who would
like to participate. My address is 19 Come Road, Gravesend, Kent.
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WEST KENT BORDER ARCHAEOLOGICAL GROUP by Peter Grant.
The proposed major excavation for 1974 on the important Iron Age, Romano-British and Saxon complex at Keston, was postponed so the Group could assist the
Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit with urgent projects in the West Kent area. Firstly,
during April and May, the Group along with other local groups, gave considerable
assistance with the large-scale excavations at Otford Palace. The discoveries and the
outcome were well worth all the hard work involved. It was also possible to transfer
the Bromley Training School to Otford at short notice where both the first and second
year students were able to make an important contribution.
Secondly, the Group helped the Unit with the motorway project, in particular
on the Dartford-Swanley link. Three previously unknown sites were excavated and
recorded ahead of the road building and with the full co-operation of the engineers.
This work is still in progress.
Because of these major operations the work at Keston will be resumed on a much
reduced scale. However, the Group will be holding its annual 'Open Day' at Holwood,
Keston, through the kind permission of Seismograph Ltd., on 15th September, 1974
(11am to 5pm).
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