Kent Archaeological Review extract

Surveys Along the Dover By-pass.
by John Gaunt, Keith Parfitt, Geoff Halliwell.
(Dover Archaeological Group.)


During the winter of 1974/75, the Dover Archaeological Group, on behalf of the Kent Archaeological Research Unit with the kind permission of the various landowners, carried out a series of field surveys along the line of the proposed seven mile Eastern By-Pass around Dover. The line of the new road runs above the north side of the Dour Valley, on the '400 foot Plateau' of the Upper Chalk. For most of the route, this plateau is covered by deposits of 'clay with flints', although in the dry valleys which begin on the plateau and run north-eastwards, deposits of brickearth occur.

Starting at the top of Lydden Hill, on the A2 Trunk road, the line of the new By-Pass runs eastwards, past Coldred, crossing the A256 at Whitfield and then on through the parish of Guston, meeting the A258 Dover/Deal road, just north of the Duke of York's Royal Military School. From here it turns down into Broadlees Bottom, where it meets the cliff edge, east of Dover Castle. The DAG. surveys covered the route from its start to its junction with the A258, whilst the Broadlees section was covered mainly by KARU Our surveys failed to reveal any definite evidence of unknown sites along the route but a number of interesting surface finds were made which are worthy of publication.

The Finds:

  1. Pottery: Little pottery was found on the surveys and all of this (with one possible exception) was of Medieval or post-Medieval date and is of little significance since it represents nothing more than domestic rubbish spread on the fields in the course of manuring. The same is true of the numerous fragments of 'Kent Peg Tiles' which were encountered; nowhere did these occur in sufficient numbers to suggest the site of a building.
  2. Flints: Flint material was rather more common on the by-pass line and two distinct industries were present. Large surface scatters of angular flints were found to be entirely natural.
  3. DRAWING: Flint implements from the Dover bypass.

    DRAWING: Flint implements from the Dover bypass.

    Flint implements from the Dover bypass. Drawn by Keith Parfitt.

    Of the Lower Palaeolithic period, three definite Acheulian hand axes were found, along with a fragment of a probable fourth. All these came from the parish of Guston.

    1. A fairly small hand axe with cream coloured patina and some iron stained patches, found on the north west slope of a dry valley, on a 'clay with flints' soil, in a field to the north of the Duke of York's Royal Military School at NGR TR 329 439. The axe is 108 mm. in length and weighs 170 gms. It has traces of the original cortex near the butt. The specimen is somewhat battered and shows several signs of plough damage, suggesting that it had been lying on, or near the surface of the ground for some time. Comparison of this axe, using Roe's techniques (Roe, 1964) with an ovate hand axe found near the by-pass line at Whitfield (see KAR 45) shows that the two axes are very similar in size and refinement, but the Guston example is somewhat more pointed in shape. Typologically, this form of hand axe can be assigned to the Later Middle Acheulian.

    2. A fragment of brown patinated flint, 41 millimetres long, found on brickearth, on the line of the new road immediately to the west of the existing Guston/Dover road (NGR TR 322 443). The fragment appears to be the end of a second Palaeolithic tool. It has flake scars on one side only, the opposite side having a bulb of percussion, showing that this fragment is from a flake rather than a core. The angle of flaking is about 113°. The break on the piece seems to be fairly recent and shows that under the patina the flint is of a dull grey colour.

    3. 3 and 4. These two fine hand axes were found some time after the main series of by-pass surveys; Number 3 in January, 1976 and Number 4 in January 1977. The two axes were found only some 15 metres apart on a clay/brickearth soil at NGR TR 322 444. Apart from a modern break on Number 3, both the axes are in a sharp and unabraded condition suggesting that they had remained more or less in situ, until earth moving for the road began in 1975. Both probably came from the soil excavated for the southern drainage gully of the road.

      • 3 consists of a large, slightly twisted, bifacially worked ovate of ivory coloured flint. It is 156 millimetres in length and weighs 532 grams A modern break on one side shows that the flint below the patina is of smokey-grey colour. Cortex is present on one side only, in a shallow depression in the surface of the tool, and covers about one fifth of the surface. The opposite side has a small area of crystalline silica exposed, which may have been retained purposely by the maker. One edge is thinner and the working finer than the other, and the implement comes to hand in a manner which suggests that a cutting or slicing function, rather than a downward chopping action, was the method of use. The edge of the implement around the butt end and extending about two thirds of the way towards the point, shows the typical coarse, wavy outline of deep 'negative bulbs of percussion' resulting from a 'flint-on-flint' method of manufacture, but where the implement becomes thinner the bulbar remains are fine and shallow and provide an even razor-sharp edge.

      • 4 is a typical bifacially-worked implement with a heavy butt end and a much finer, symmetrically-tapering blade. The upper quarter was broken in antiquity, as evidenced by the patina which is continuous over the break and, like Number 3, is ivory white. The estimated original length of the hand axe is about 165 millimetres. There are no modern breaks on the implement so the colour of the flint below the patina is unknown. The weight of the tool is 420 grams. At the butt end, on one side, is an area of cortex covering just over one third of the surface.

      Both these axes, along with Number 2, can be assigned on typological grounds to the Late Middle Acheulian. Numbers 3 and 4 are of great interest in that, unlike most Palaeolithic implements found in the area, they were found in close proximity to each other and appear to have remained in situ until very recently. Hand axes of the Acheulian industry are not uncommon on the '400 foot Plateau' around Dover and at least 3 examples are known from the neighbouring parish of Whitfield (KAR45). The most recent dates for the Acheulian industries in Britain suggest that they occupied the later part of the Hoxnian Interglacial (Mellars, 1974), and continued on into the earlier part of the Wolstonian Glaciation.

      Flint work belonging to the Neolithic/Bronze Age industry is very common in the fields of this part of East Kent and fair amounts were collected on the surveys. Of this material little was impressive and consisted mainly of the typical crude flakes, cores and pot boilers (some of which are undoubtedly not of prehistoric origin). As has often been found, these surface flint scatters cannot usually be related to buried Neolithic structures and their value, as occupation site indicators, is limited. It was noticeable that Neolithic flint work was more common on the brickearth soils in the valleys than on the 'clay with flints' soils. Several Neolithic pieces are of some interest and may be usefully published, but the majority, being of little archaeological value, was discarded after sorting.

    4. Knife/scraper of blue/grey flint, finely retouched around the edge. Found on a 'clay with flints' soil at Whitfield (NGR TR. 306 447).

    5. Bifacially worked scraper in blue/grey flint, probably made on a flake. Re-touching is confined to the upper edge. The general appearance of this tool is not unlike some implements of the Lower Palaeolithic but both its patina (or lack of it) and the retouching around the edge, make a Neolithic date fairly certain. Found on a 'clay-with-flints' soil, directly to the south of the A258 at NGR TR 331 435.

    6. Fabricator of dark blue/black flint. Some plough damage on the edges. Found on a clay soil at about NGR TR 252 464.

    7. Sickle of dark blue flint, finely worked on one side. Some plough damage on the edges. A local parallel for the sickle can be found in Dunning, 1966, page 20, although the Guston example is smaller and more refined. Found on a brickearth soil at Guston (NGR TR 327 440).

    Following our surveys, the main earth moving for the construction of the new road was begun in the early Summer of 1975 by the Contractors, Gleeson Civil Engineering Ltd. A close watch on this work was kept by both DAG and KARU and several archaeological features were noted. These will be reported fully in due course. All the material mentioned above is in the possession of the Dover Archaeological Group.

    We would like to acknowledge the co-operation of the Kent County Council and Gleeson Civil Engineering Ltd.


    • DUNNING, G C (1966) -- 'Neolithic occupation sites in East Kent' Antiq. J, 46, 1-25.
    • MELLARS, P A (1974) -- The 'Palaeolithic and Mesolithic', in Renfrew C (ed) British Prehistory.
    • ROE, D A (1964) -- 'The British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic'. Some problems, methods of study and preliminary results' Proceedings of Prehistoric Society, 30, 245.
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