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Kent Archaeological Review extract

News from the Groups.
by Various Contributors.



The West Kent schools training excavation took place this year on the Dartford-Swanley Motorway. Twenty-five students were chosen from the many applications sent in by a number of Kent schools.

The threatened site was an Iron Age farmstead on the line of the Motorway. The two-acre site consisted of an enclosure ringed by a ditch and bank. Traces of at least one circular wooden hut were unearthed with post-holes for a substantial gateway.

Andrew Norris and Derek Garrod were in charge of the students and were assisted by Pat Crozier and Jeanne Newbery. Some of the techniques of excavation were taught, use of tools, safety rules, etc. Safety was an important factor on this site because of the huge grading machines used by the Motorway engineers which were rapidly approaching the site.

During the two-weeks excavation the students were taken on a day's walk to Fort Farningham, Lullingstone Roman Villa and Eynsford Castle, and two afternoons were spent on motorway surveys.

The students were given a first-hand insight into rescue archaeology as they saw the machines begin to gobble up the site.

The majority of the students worked hard and with enthusiasm. Several of them were skilled enough to join in the major rescue excavation work at Dover in August.

We hope the students enjoyed their experience. They knitted into a cheerful group and we enjoyed their lively company.

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The Unit has continued its task of survey, patrol and recording throughout the county with the emphasis during July and August on the large-scale rescue-excavation at Dover.

Dover Town Centre.

Work was concentrated in a large area to the west of the Market Square, off Tavernors Lane and revealed the substantial remains of the Norman Church of St Martin le Grand. The Church was established before 1100 by secular canons, who in 1139 were removed and a new priory was built outside the town (now Dover College). The Church, until its demolition in about the mid-16th century, remained as the parish church for three Dover parishes.

By early September the excavations had revealed the south wall of the nave, part of the south transept and one of the massive piers supporting the central tower. The substantial ragstone and flint walls still survived in places to 9 feet and the pilaster buttresses, central pier and blocked-in doorway in the south wall of the nave were all faced with fine caenstone. A large chapel had been added in the south corner of the nave and south transept in about the 13th century. This chapel was found to contain three complete tombs.

During August the annual Dover 'Open Days' were held and attended by several thousand visitors who were given guided tours and a large number of KARs were sold. The Unit would like to thank all who took part in the Dover excavation and in particular Mrs T Clithero, J Nelson, W Williams; Misses H Jacobs and J Tayler; Messrs T Allen, D Bolton, T Dennis, T Emms, D Garrod, J Gaunt, W Harcourt, K Nicol, A Norris, K Parfitt, B Stocker and E Tullett for extended periods of work.


By August excavation ahead and during the construction of the Dartford/Swanley Link was completed and patrols over the route during construction continued. Of the sites excavated an enclosure of late-Iron Age date in the parish of Sutton-at-Hone proved the most interesting. About 1 acres was cleared mechanically by the Unit and work by hand revealed a complex of ditches, post-holes and pits. These produced an important group of late-Iron Age pottery, animal bones and a fine potin coin.

During August the first phase of the Dover/Lydden bypass started. This short length lies between Dover Harbour and Broadless Bottom to the east of Dover Castle. A watch has been kept on this operation in conjuction with John Gaunt, Director of the Dover Archaeological Group.


Work has continued ahead of construction of a town centre development at the junction of Spittal Street and Lowfield Street in Dartford (see KAR Number 34 (1973), page 110). So far medieval deposits with possible structures have been recorded.

Walmer Fortified Manor House.

A major programme of conservation was undertaken by the Unit during July to September on the site of the Norman fortified manor house, Church St, Upper Walmer. This was at the instigation and request of Ald. C Seed, president of the Deal and Walmer Local History Society. The site was badly overgrown and dangerous even after several years of hard work by the Society started some 10 years ago. The Unit arranged a 21-year lease through the generosity of the owner, Mr W Tugwell, to Dover District Council and the Council has agreed to maintain the site after its initial clearance and levelling.

The work was financed by the Civic Trust as part of European Architectural Year and by the KCC. It was carried out under the supervision of Mr John Gaunt of Deal and the writer. Much of the hard work was undertaken by boys from Dover Grammar School as part of a school project and Graham Doghegy and Kenneth Bailey deserve a special mention as do Gordon Hutchinson and Keith Parfitt.

The work included the removal of tons of rubble and soil, filling-in old excavations, clearing the dense undergrowth and levelling the site. By late July the work was well advanced and then the site was opened to the public and the Unit was able to give guided tours to many hundreds of visitors.


One highly interesting rescue-project, starting in December 1973, has been undertaken in the centre of medieval Hythe, close to the parish church of St Leonards. Inside the Manor House, Hillside St, the owners Mr and Mrs G. Holtam were reducing the floor level in the central part of the house on the north side to create a level through-room. During this operation they found, under the modern floor, fire debris and some fine medieval objects. Realizing the significance of these discoveries Mr and Mrs Holtham stopped their digging and very kindly allowed archaeological excavation and recording to take place. The Unit would like to gratefully acknowledge the kind help, co-operation and facilities which Mr and Mrs Holtham extended to us.

A full record has been made and a report is in preparation. Some of the finds have been retained by the owners.


Work has restarted on the next volume of the Kent Research Report. In the meantime three popular booklets and one research report have been published in the past year:
  • Excavations in West Kent 1960/70 -- 5.
  • Roman Dover -- 20p.
  • Excavations in the Darent Valley -- 20p.
  • Roman Reculver (reprint) -- 20p.

All are obtainable from KARU, Dover Castle, Kent.

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The Group has recently been preparing a plan of the old 'All Saints' Church, Murston, together with a record of the number, location and inscriptions of the associated graves. Of the original twelfth-thirteenth century church little remains except for the rapidly decaying south chapel. The church was rebuilt in 1873 on a site about half a mile nearer the Sittingbourne-Canterbury (A2) road, and incorporates parts of the original structure

Attention has also been directed toward the area to the north-west of Holy Trinity Church, Milton Regis. This field has escaped brickearthing, but is now threatened by redevelopment in the next few years. With the kind permission of the landowners preliminary steps have been taken toward locating the Roman building thought to extend into the area from the nearby graveyard.

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The University Society has been active during the last few years in recording information about the 'Tyler Hill' tile and pottery industry. We are always pleased to receive news of material found in this area or prior notice of threatened areas.

It is the policy of the Society to restrict all excavations to emergency work. Like many University societies where the membership changes from year to year the problems of continuity are very real. As a permanent, albeit, a co-opted, member of the Society my function is to provide that continuity. Members of the Society have assisted recently in many archaeological activities in Kent. For instance: rescue excavations at Dover, Ickham, Greyfriars in Canterbury and some work in connection with the Deserted Medieval Village Research Group on Oxney Court. Because of the nature of the Society there is also a wide range of interest including industrial archaeology. Recently members of the Society under Kevin Fulcher visited the steam laundry at Eastry Hospital prior to its destruction and made suitable sketches and photographs. Members of the film-making society were present and an 8-minute film of the laundry in action was taken. It is hoped that when this has been processed and edited a public showing of the film will be possible shortly.

The University Society also organises trips to various areas and sites of interest and recent speakers to the Society have included Tom Hassall on Saxon Oxford and Chris Young on Oxford Pottery industry. Notice will be given shortly of forthcoming lectures and those interested will be welcome to attend.

Our aim must be to assist and encourage others in the vital task of recording archaeology in Kent. Time is not on our side.

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During the summer 'rest' the Group continued to assist the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit with urgent rescue work both at Dover and on the Dartford-Swanley Motorway project. This unavoidably caused some curtailment of the summer programme planned for Keston; however work re-started there in September and so far evidence of rubbish deposits with much Romano-British pottery has been uncovered. Work has also re-started in earnest at the Bromley Research centre where preparations for publication of the 2nd part of the West Kent Report are well in hand.

The Group continues its efforts to inform and involve the general public in their local archaeology and another very successful 'Archaeological Open Day' was held at Holwood, Keston on Sunday September 15th. With the kind permission of Seismograph Ltd. large numbers of people were given guided tours of the huge Iron Age Hill fort which forms part of the grounds, the medieval tile kiln excavated by the Group and the exterior of Holwood House. For the first time the gardens of Holwood House were also open on the same day, making this a combined Archaeological and Gardens day which proved highly successful. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Seismograph Ltd. for their help and co-operation. Our thanks too to all the guides, marshalls and other helpers who made the day very worthwhile.

Another full programme of Winter lectures has also been arranged for the public; all are welcome; held at the United Reform Church, Widmore Road, Bromley, the tickets are only 60p for the whole series and available from the WKBAG 5, Harvest Bank Road, West Wickham, Kent. These lectures cover a very wide range of subjects and should be a very successful part of our winter programme.

Evening classes in Practical Archaeology, arranged with the Bromley Adult Education Centre are again taking place this autumn. There is a beginners and an advanced class held at the Bromley Arts Centre, and enrolment is through the Bromley Adult Education Centre at 12 Palace Grove, Bromley. Very valuable help has been given by members of the classes during the past year and no doubt there will be ample opportunities in the future.

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