This article appeared in the Summer 1976 (Issue #46) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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A Neolithic/Bronze Age Site at St Margaret's-at-Cliffe.
The site (NGR 351 430 centre) occupies open fields immediately south- west of Wanstone Farm in the parish of St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, near Dover. It is situated in and around the head of a dry valley, which runs north eastwards towards Kingsdown, about 450 metres inland from the cliff edge. The valley bottom is between 325 feet and 350 feet OD (107 metres).
Systematic field surveys of the area have been conducted by Mr P Shaw and the writer, with kind permission of the farmers -- Messrs. Hickson Brothers of Sutton-by-Dover, during the winters of 1972, 1973 and 1974, following the site's initial discovery in the late summer of 1972. The surveys have revealed an extensive flint industry covering about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) in and around the head of the valley. The main concentration of flints occurs in the the valley bottom about 600/700 metres south-west of Wanstone Farm. There was considerable disturbance of the area during the Second World War and a number of buildings of this period still remain. In the south western corner of the area examined, a spread of building rubble occurs on the site of an 18th/ 19th century coastal signal station (NGR 348 427) as marked on old maps.
The soil in the area is mainly Brickearth with a deposit of clay with flints occuring above the south-east side of the valley.
The Flint Material:
Following a brief examination of the flint material, the following summary can be made.
Some 554 pieces of worked flint were recovered from the site, although large numbers of pot boilers and waste material were not collected, and the assemblage, therefore, represents only a very small part of the total on the site.
The colour of the flint varies from pure white through light blue to dark blue and black. Flints of dark blue and black colour occured mainly in the valley bottom, whilst light blue and white patinated pieces occured on the higher parts of the site. Many of the flints show signs of plough damage.
382 pieces of the total amount of flint work recovered consisted of waste flakes and cores; 23 cores were obtained (although a fair number were not collected). Of these 23 cores, about half still had traces of their original cortex and none was particularly large. Waste flakes accounted for 359 pieces of the total assemblage. A good number of these had traces of their original cortex and secondary working along the edges of many suggest that they may have served as rough tools (probably mainly scrapers), although it is possible that some of the "working" has been caused by plough damage.
Scrapers and blades made up the bulk of the flint tools from the site, the scrapers generally having secondary working on one or both sides. End scrapers were rare with only one or two examples occuring. Knives and blade-like tools accounted for 47 pieces of the total assemblage and some 15 notched flakes occured.
Several interesting other pieces may be mentioned individually:
- A roughly chipped bar of light blue/grey patinated flint, 130 millimetres in length, which had been sharpened at one end by a tranchet blow, may be some sort of digging implement or axe rough-out. (Number 35)
- A small, pointed, chipped axe of black flint, 90 millimetres in length, 50 millimetres across the butt, and of 30 millimetres maximum thickness, with a weight of 100 grams. (Number 36)
- A chopper-like core tool of dark blue flint, 100 millimetres in length and 25 millimetres in thickness. (Number 37)
- Only 2 probable arrowheads have been recognised, one having been finely worked into a tang at one end and then discarded without being completed. (Number 18) The other one of blue/black flint with some working along the edges. (Number 25)
- The Polished Axe. (Number 38) The most interesting find from the site was a polished axe head. The axe is broken and the cutting edge is missing. It has a light blue/grey patina and since this covers the broken end it can be seen that the break is an ancient one (probably when the axe was in use). The axe is 100 millimetres in length and 55 millimetres wide at the broken end, tapering down to 30 millimetres at the butt, and weighs 125 grams. It has a symmetrical and roughly oval cross section with a maximum thickness of 25 millimetres It is well polished and has only a few shallow flake scars remaining after polishing.
Flints of the general type found on the site are very common in this part of East Kent and are usually given a Neolithic/Bronze Age date. The presence of a polished axe in association with the material from St Margaret's, may suggest the site is of Neolithic date rather than Bronze Age.
The site seems to be in no immediate danger of destruction, being located on agricultural land. The finds are at present in the possession of the writer.
Catalogue of the Illustrated Material from St Margaret's-at-Cliffe:
- Side scraper of dark blue flint, some original cortex, traces of secondary working on both long sides. (Reference SM 2) *
- Scraper ? of dark blue/grey flint, with slight traces of original cortex, roughly worked along the edges, apparently broken. (SM 2) *
- Side scraper of grey/black flint, some cortex, worked along one edge. (SM 13)*
- Side scraper of dark blue flint, some original cortex, secondary working on three edges, worked notch at the top. (SM 2) *
- Flake of blue flint with some original cortex. (SM 10) *
- Scraper of light blue flint, cortexed, some rough working around edges. (SM 8)*
- Blade of blue/grey flint worked on one edge, some original cortex. (SM 10)*
- Flake of brown flint worked along two edges. (SM 10) *
- Blade of grey/white flint, worked along both edges and one end, with a worked notch on one edge. (SM 8) *
- Small blade of blue/white flint, finely worked on both edges. (SM 8) *
- Blade of black flint, slight traces of original cortex, finely worked on both edges. (SM 2) *
- Probable knife in shiny black flint roughly worked on both edges. (SM2)*
- Small blade of dark grey flint with secondary working on both edges. (SM 2) *
- Small side scraper of blue flint with secondary working on two edges. (SM 2) *
- Scraper of blue/white flint, secondary working on both edges. (SM 4) *
- Flake of blue/grey flint. (SM 11) *
- Blade of light blue flint worked on three edges. (SM 11) *
- Probable unfinished arrowhead in light blue flint. (SM 11) * See (d) above.
- Blade in white flint, slight traces of working on both edges. (SM 12) *
- Flake of blue/grey flint. (SM 7) *
- Small scraper ? in blue/black flint, traces of original cortex. Edges plough damaged. (SM 7) *
- Side scraper in light blue/grey flint with some original cortex. Secondary working around edges is probably plough damage. (SM 3) *
- Side scraper ? in light blue/grey flint, some secondary working along edges. (SM 3) *
- Blade in grey flint, with worked notches along one edge, some original cortex. (SM 11) *
- Probable arrowhead in blue/black flint, worked along edges. (SM 11) * See (d) above.
- Blade of grey flint with some original cortex. Fine secondary working along one edge. (SM 4) *
- Blade of dark blue flint with some original cortex. (SM 3) *
- Blade of blue/grey flint, with some original cortex. (SM 3) *
- Scraper of blue flint with some original cortex. Slight traces of secondary working on edges. (SM 3) *
- Blade of light blue flint finely worked along one edge. (SM 11) *
- Flake of white flint, probably broken, some working on edges. (SM 6) *
- Blade in blue/white flint. Secondary working probably plough damage. (SM 11)*
- Blade in light blue flint, probably broken. Secondary working probably plough damage. (SM 11) *
- Small scraper of blue/grey flint, traces of original cortex. Secondary working along both edges, with a small notch on one edge. (SM 11) *
- A roughly chipped bar of light blue/grey flint. (SM 7) * See (a) above.
- Small pointed, chipped axe of black flint. (SM 7) * See (b) above.
- Polished axe head of light blue/grey flint. (SM 1) * See (e) above.