Kent Archaeological Review extract

A Major Prehistoric Site Discovered at Darenth, Kent.
by Edna Mynott.
(West Kent Archaeological Group.)

One of the most important and interesting prehistoric sites to be located anywhere in S E England in recent years was discovered at Darenth in January, 1975. The site yielded highly important and rich environmental evidence in direct association with archaeological artifacts in a late-Mesolithic or early-Neolithic peat-filled lake. It was detected by the West Kent Field Officer of the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit during regular patrols of gravel extraction areas. Immediate preliminary recording was undertaken by the West Kent Group and in April 1975, a large-scale excavation was launched jointly by the Group and Unit with Dept. of the Environment and Kent County Council support. Members of the Bromley Archaeological Training School also took part. Further work has been undertaken as the gravel pit has been extended. The co-operation of the owners, Messrs Clubb Ltd and the help of the manager, Mr C Friend, is gratefully acknowledged. Of the many diggers Timothy Allen and Derek Garrod deserve a special word of appreciation for their hard work over an extended period.

The site occupies part of the flood plain and terrace of the River Darent about 4 miles from its confluence with the River Thames and 1½ miles from the town centre of Dartford. The principal feature was a broad, natural lake which filled with organic material, mostly peat, during late-Mesolithic or early-Neolithic times and remained waterlogged. The excavation recovered 16,000 artifacts from the lake and overlying alluvial deposits. These included a prolific flint industry, with some Mesolithic affinities, including three axes and a pick. A small quantity of pottery and a single saddle quern appear to represent domestic rubbish of early-Neolithic date. The rich environmental evidence included seeds, pollen, bone, nuts, wood, plants in-situ and insects -- all found in direct association with the archaeological evidence. Samples were taken for Carbon 14 dating and these should provide critical absolute dates for this very early lakeside agricultural-industrial site.

The last quarter of this prehistoric lake was destroyed by the quarrying in November 1975.

PHOTO: Excavation of the prehistoric peat-filled lake at Darenth.

Excavation of the prehistoric peat-filled lake at Darenth. Photo: Brian Philp.

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