Kent Archaeological Review extract

News from the Groups.
by Various Contributors.



In July 1975, we welcomed sixth-formers from over ten West Kent secondary schools to the annual Darent Valley Arch. Training School. Twenty-eight students, some returning for their third year, took part with KCC support. Some were later able to take part in other rescue-excavations in West Kent, as well as Dover.

The main training excavation took place near Farningham on a major Iron Age settlement site discovered and excavated ahead of the construction of the M20 Mid-Kent Motorway. The main emphasis, as in other years, was on the practicalities of excavation, with digging techniques taking high priority as well as the recognition of layers and the recording of finds. Other sites were under excavation during the Training School and groups of students gained valuable experience on other sites in the immediate area. Throughout the School the students were divided into small groups under the tuition of experienced archaeologists, three of whom were also qualified teachers.

Processing the finds from the Iron Age site was also included in the course. A field trip was made to Lullingstone Roman Villa and Eynsford Castle, which gave the students a rest from the rigours of excavation.

All the students made very good progress and contributed to the work on the various sites. In particular Misses Jacqueline Brown, Linda Mobbs, Elizabeth Parish and Hilary Plant and Messrs. Peter Curran, Peter Henery and Martin Meggs deserve a special word of praise and appreciation. We hope that the students will carry on with the good work!

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The largest series of 'Open Days' ever carried out on an archaeological site in Kent took place in Dover for 30 days during August. The town-centre excavations attracted just over 18,500 people, each of whom were given a 45 minute conducted tour of the site by relays of trained archaeologists. The first three stops were on different sides of the "Painted House" in Market Street, which was briefly unburied again after its four years of burial. Visitors were then taken over the new York Street indoor excavation and the current excavation in Barwick's Yard. The final stop was a large display area which included plans, photographs and drawings and publications of some of the many sites discovered and excavated by the Unit all over Kent since 1972.

Thanks to the large numbers attending, the charge for the guided tours adequately covered the costs of the four weeks of re-excavation, the four weeks of opening to the public and the four weeks to re-cover the 'Painted House'. In addition, such was the huge interest in the scheme to preserve the 'Painted House' that a 'Friends of the Painted House' scheme was launched (see page 40) on the site and more than 500 visitors instantly made a donation of 5 or more to help launch the scheme. Several hundred copies of the KAR were sold and backnumbers again proved in great demand.

Although guides emphasized the unique importance of the 'Painted House' and outlined the story of excavation and discovery of the two major Roman masonry forts, rescue-archaeology and publication were not neglected. Visitors were able to understand the pressures and organisation of the large-scale towncentre excavations ahead of development and to note that 40,000 tons of soil, 170,000 finds and 20,000 stratified deposits have been encountered in the past five years and that work on a similar scale must still continue. One leading archaeologist who visited the site stated that "Dover contains the richest 10 acres of buried archaeology in the British Isles!".

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Readers living in the Sandwich area might care to know that the Sandwich Local History Society is holding some interesting meetings this winter. For example: November 13th, 'The Cinque Ports', A portrait in sound and vision of the five Cinque Ports and the two Ancient Towns, joining times present to times past -- Folkestone Camera Club; February 19th, 'Georgian Margate, a fashionable seaside resort', and illustrated survey of its visitors and the attractions offered them between 1770 and 1840 -- by Tom Richardson; April 9th, The Barker Lecture to be given by Charles Ritcheson, Cultural Attache of the United States Embassy in London. This is to mark the bi-centenary of the American Revolution and the involvement of Sandwich through Tom Paine; May 20th, 'The Buildings of East Kent', an illustrated progress report on recent discoveries in Sandwich and district.

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A major focus of activity was the training excavation at Radfield, which took place under the direction of Ralph Mills during the first three weeks of August. Many members of the Group were able to benefit from the experience of working on a "continually developing" site in the Sittingbourne area. The concurrent publicity served to draw many visitors to the site and helped to "spread the word " concerning the aims of Archaeology. The results of the excavation will be reported at a later date.

Earlier in the summer a party of members paid a one-day working visit to Eccles, near Maidstone. An instructive day was spent helping to excavate a Saxon settlement under the guidance of Mr A Detsicas. The Group also visited Lullingstone Roman villa and the unique Roman "Painted House" at Dover.

The Court Hall Museum again entertained a fair number of visitors and "Guided Tours" this summer, and improvements in display facilities are grad- ually being made.

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UPCHURCH by Ian Jackson.

The group has been kept busy this year in continuing their observation of the 1st and 2nd Century Sites located in the tidal marshland tract, north of Upchurch in Kent. February saw the location of two firing areas associated with salt winning on the floor feature at site 008. The firing areas consisted of accumulations of burnt clay slotted material of type discussed in a previous Review (KAR Number 40) and the first found at this site.

Between March and May the group was fortunate enough to locate and excavate a pottery kiln at site 001.01 just before tidal erosion destroyed the feature. This was our first opportunity to record an intact kiln structure. The kiln was of a circular updraught type with a kiln bar floor, supported on two preformed clay pedastals located in the middle of the furnace, with the outer ends of the kiln bars sitting on a kerb constructed at the base of the furnace wall. A large proportion of the kiln's oven chamber also remained.

A few weeks later a boat-shaped oven was located beside the kiln, which on excavation not only proved to be contemporary with the kiln but had also been fired from a stokehole common to both. Both features appear to belong to the latter half of the 2nd Century. A more detailed description of these features will appear in a future issue of the KAR

In September a third firing area was located on the floor at site 008. An alignment of firing areas is becoming apparant and we will now have to section the floor to obtain a clear interpretation of its formation and use.

The results this year, as with the two previous years, have emphasised that continual effort is worth while, for patience coupled with regular site visits is still providing fresh and enlightning information as to the settlement of those areas bordering the Medway Estuary.

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