Kent Archaeological Review extract

Crop Mark Sites in East Kent.
by Keith Parfitt.

During 1974 members of the Dover Archaeological Group noted a number of interesting features on the local chalk downs. Four sites in particular were recorded and added to group records. Two of these sites had been noted in the past but they showed up particularly well last year.

The first site lies in the parish of West Langdon some 80 metres north-east of the West Langdon crossroads, on arable land, (NGR 322 470). The site is located on the top of a chalk ridge and is apparently the remains of a round barrow, showing up as a darker ring in the chalky soil (representing the infilled ditch of the barrow). The ring-ditch is about 20 metres in diameter and is joined on its north-west side by a straight ditch some 35 metres in length. There is no evidence of a mound within the ditched area. Ploughing within this area, in 1972, produced some animal bones.

The second site also lies in the parish of West Langdon nearly 800 metres south- east of the first site, close to the boundary with East Langdon parish (NGR 325 463). It is again a barrow site although the ring-ditch in this case is subst- antially larger (about 36 metres in diameter). The site lies just below the top of a chalk ridge, a little to the south-west of the road from West Langdon to East Langdon. Traces of a mound within the ring-ditch are again absent due to continued ploughing down the slope. Other interesting soil markings are visible in the same field.

Sites three and four are new discoveries. Site three is another barrow site although this time the remains of two barrows are visible side by side. They lie on the western boundary of the parish of St. Margaret's at Cliffe, just west of the A 258, near the Martin Mill crossroads (NGR 345 459). The barrows were noted in a field of corn in July when they showed up as two rings of taller corn, about 20 metres in diameter and connected on their western side by a straight ditch (also marked by taller corn). The barrows lie on a north-west facing slope and continued ploughing has again removed any traces of mounds within the ditched areas.

The fourth site was observed in an unploughed field of corn stubble with grass in October near Little Mongeham, about 20 metres south-east of the road between Little Mongeham and Great Mongeham, some 100 metres south-west of the Northbourne crossroads (NGR 338 511). The site was a fine example of a crop mark with the grass in the field standing higher and greener over the feature and forming a rectangle about 40 metres by 10 metres. At the north-western end (nearest the road) there appeared to be an entrance. The opposite end seemed to bow outwards slightly. Subsequent ploughing of the area revealed a scatter of flints at the southern end of the feature and a trial excavation here produced a circular flint hearth. Brief trial slots across the areas of taller grass failed to produce evidence of buried features. The Group would like to thank the farmer, Mr D Sedger, for allowing this work to be carried out.

The identification of this crop mark site is a little more difficult than the three sites mentioned previously. Usually, markings such as those described are associated with buried ditches, but the general shape suggests that the feature marks the site of a building. It could be that a masonary structure stood here and has been robbed away, leaving the robber trenches as the actual crop marks. It may be noted here that Little Mongeham, today, exists only as a hamlet but in Medieval times it was a village with its own church (long since demolished). It could be that this site marks the position of one of the cottages connected with the Medieval village, although there is no evidence for this.

These four sites will be watched carefully in the coming months and excavation may be possible when other, more urgent work, has been dealt with. It clear that all of the sites are suffering considerable damage from the plough each year.

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