This article appeared in the Winter 1975 (Issue #42) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Bronze Age Axes from Sevenoaks.
In February 1975 during a routine patrol of gravel pits in West Kent undertaken by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, the writer visited the Bradbourne Pit at Sevenoaks and was able to record two very fine Bronze axe heads. They were found by Mr Chown, an employee of Redland Gravel Ltd, the owners of the site. Mr Chown found the axes whilst operating the washing and processing plant. The ready help and co-operation of Redland Gravel Ltd is gratefully acknowledged.
The axes were found at different times, the first (the looped one) in late 1974 and the second on 10th February, 1975, just two hours before the patrol visit. The site is on the east bank of the River Darent and the areas being worked when the axes were found were about 100 metres apart (NGR TQ 5264 5772 and TQ 5254 5773). The ballast being processed was from the dry digging part of the pit. This is at the north end of the quarry which is still being extended. The gravel is from Folkestone Bed deposits and lies directly on top of the Blue Gault Clay. Over the gravel is about 1 metre of red-brown clay-loam and top-soil. This is removed before quarrying starts. The axes must have come from the top of the gravel or the layer above. Other finds from the gravel itself include mammoth tusks and teeth.
Number 1. Bronze, looped palstave, length 16.3 centimetres although the butt seems to be broken away -- probably damage caused by the quarry washing machine. The form is long and slender with a median rib on the blade and a slightly flared cutting edge. The stop is set nearer the butt than the blade which gives the latter a long, slender appearance. The stop, which has also been slightly distorted, is square ended.
The distribution of this palstave in Britain is restricted mainly to the south-eastern counties and is particularly concentrated in the Thames Basin. Single finds have however occurred, for instance, in Cornwall, Worcester and Cardigan. An identical version also occurs in Brittany where it is wholly characteristic of the 'Bronze Moyen III', termed the Portrieux type. This suggests trading routes across the Channel. (Reference 1)
Opinion generally places this type of palstave towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age and a provisional date of 10th - 13th century BC seems most likely.
Noumber 2. Bronze palstave with 3-ribbed splayed blade. The cutting edge is champfered above the ribs, probably secondary work accomplished by honing. There is no loop. The length is 15.1 centimetres and the stop is placed half way along the axe.