Kent Archaeological Review extract

Reports from the Groups.


Darent Valley Training School: JEANNE NEWBERY.

The 1977 training school was held at Keston in July. Some 25 enthusiastic students from schools in West Kent took part. They were taken through many aspects of archaeology from fieldwork to processing finds. One student returned from the 1976 school and proved invaluable in setting the pace for the others. Two students from the 1977 class have already signed up for the 1978 class. The area excavated by the school had features of both Roman and Iron Age date. As in previous years trips were made to the Lullingstone Roman villa and the Iron Age hillfort at Holwood.

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Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit: BRIAN PHILP.

The Unit has continued its extensive programme of work all over the county in the past twelve months. Its four training-excavations have continued, its study of all planning applications is right up to date, and its Sites and Monuments Record is under constant revision. It has continued its patrols of development sites, it has carried out more than twenty excavations in East and West Kent and published several reports. The most important of the latter was the Roman Forum of London report, which appeared in Britannia early in 1978. The Northbourne Report appeared in KAR 52.

Of excavations the most important have been at Dover, Dartford, Margate, Queenborough, Sevenoaks, Chalk (on behalf of Mr Harker and his Springhead Group) and on Romney Marsh. All were sites threatened with destruction by a wide variety of agencies.

The Unit acknowledges the continued support of the CKA and many of its affiliated groups. Several of the groups have assisted with the Unit's excavations at Dover and in West Kent. It also acknowledges the financial help of the Department of the Environment and the Kent County Council. In addition the Unit's work on the Roman Painted House at Dover can now be seen to have been most rewarding. Thousands of visitors from all over the world have seen the wall paintings and the exhibits and looked at the new displays dealing with rescue-work in Kent. An award for the Painted House scheme was received from the British Tourist Authority in May.

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Fawkham and District Historical Society: MAVIS LATTER.

The society arranged monthly lectures commencing in March with a very interesting talk by H J Dicketts on 'Half-Timbered Houses in Kent'. This was notable for the black and white slides which showed the buildings before the advent of television aerials and other modern clutter. Other lectures have been on 'Gravesham's Past' by Mrs Joy Saynor and 'Hallmarks' by Mr Dalladay. During 1977 the society visited the enthralling 'Painted House' in Dover. During May a visit was arranged to the town of Faversham where we inspected the Gunpowder Mills, Davington Priory and Church and the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre. From there we were taken on a tour of Faversham and afterwards went to the Maison Dieu, Ospringe, and saw the excavations taking place there.

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Sittingbourne and Swale Archaeological Research Group: ESME GRISDALE.

Last autumn the Group carried out a second phase of exploratory excavation at Church Field, Milton Regis. Further fragments of Roman period material were found but no evidence of building foundations was detected. It is hoped that work will be completed this coming autumn. During the summer several members took part in the Department of the Environment excavation at Ospringe on the site of the Maison Dieu Hospital.

The Group also took part in the Swale Festival of Arts by arranging two lectures: 'Memories of Milton Creek' by Alan Cordell and 'Recent Excavations at Ospringe' by George Smith.

A report on Murston Church (KAR 51) and two reports on the Church Field excavations (KAR 49 & 52) were published.

In addition the Group continued to operate the Court Hall Museum. Two new displays have been arranged one of the history of local barges and the other of minerals. The Group visited Upnor Castle, Temple Manor and the National Geological Museum. Several group members have shown slides of sites in England, Italy and Greece.

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Thameside Archaeological Group: Mrs V. SMITH.

Since last year the report on the Tudor Blockhouse at Gravesend has been finished and has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming issue of Archaeologia Cantiana.

Work has continued on the Roman site at Northfleet. With the first area being completed, a second was begun last autumn and has so far provided rough agreement with the 1911 plan, but with additional robber trenches making a much more sensible arrangement of the walls. The nature of the earlier excavation has destroyed all stratification, and dating material is so far absent, with the exception of one complete pot found alongside a robber trench, which seems to have been a foundation offering. Small trial holes taken below the foundations show that some activity preceded the buildings, and this will be investigated more fully later.

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Springhead Excavations Group: SYD HARKER.

Current work at Springhead involves two fairly large areas at each end of the site presently available, each concerned with roads and adjacent areas. The results are already proving interesting and revealing and it is hoped that there will be something significant to present at the open day on the Summer Bank Holiday.

In collaboration with the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, an extensive trenching operation has recently been completed at Castle Lane, Chalk, in advance of projected building development. More than 1,200 feet of trench was cut, revealing an extensive ditch system, pits, paths and post-holes indicative of considerable pastoral and agricultural activity during the Roman period. The greatest concentration was in the vicinity of the bath building examined in 1974/5 (KAR 40).

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Wealden Iron Research Group: ALAN SCOTT.

The Group are studying, by field work, an area of circa 170 sqare kilometres in the Weald of Sussex centred round Crowborough (TQ 515 313). So far over 300 bloomery iron working sites, represented by slag heaps, have been plotted. Research is now concentrated on dating a representative sample of these by excavation of the slag heaps.

Of 13 sites excavated so far two gave nil results, one was medieval and ten were Romano-British. These produced mainly hand-made`South Eastern B' type pottery that cannot at present be dated more closely than to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

A blast furnace site at Battle later used as a mill, has produced artifacts, not directly associated with iron-making, of 17th 19th century. Field work by this group will be carried out after further documentary research. Cannon balls of several sizes have also been found by the owner and a set kindly given to the Battle & District Historical Society's Museum.

Sites that are at risk and are considered of importance are put up for Scheduling as Ancient Monuments and junior members are encouraged to carry out field work by Scout and Guide leaders who are members of this group.

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University of Canterbury Archaeological Society: ROBERT SISSONS.

The society has had a successful year and the membership now stands at 51. At our first meeting in October, slides of Roman Britain were shown. Further meetings have included a competition to identify historic buildings, a talk on recent excavations in Canterbury by a member of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and a talk on 'The Chateaux of the Loire' by the society's secretary. Mr Ian Sharp gave an illustrated lecture on 'The Development of British Coinage' and Mr Kwa talked to us on 'Temple-Monuments of South East Asia'.

We arranged visits to Richborough Castle and the Painted House at Dover; Rochester Castle and Cathedral; Dover Castle and Lullingstone Roman Villa. In April a party of members spent a week-end in Sussex, visiting the Open Air Museum at Singleton, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Parham House and Chichester Cathedral.

Several of the society's members are helping with the excavations in Canterbury and two further outings and one meeting will be held before the end of term.

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West Kent Archaeological Group: RON MUMMERY.

Excavation continued at Lower Warbank, Keston, on the Iron Age, Romano-British and Saxon site. We located the eastern end of a large timber-framed aisled building of 2nd 3rd century AD which related to the villa complex. Pits, ditches and gullies relating to the 1st century AD farmstead were also found. The group continued its programme of survey, excavation and recording on the important prehistoric site at Wilmington Gravel Pit. This work is being undertaken ahead of extensive gravel extraction and in the past year has concentrated on the Iron Age site dating to about 400 100 BC. Pits, post-holes, posted structures and small quarries have been revealed, all full of domestic rubbish. The group received DOE support for both these projects and gratefully acknowledges the full-time assistance given by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit. The group also assisted Mr Dell of the Edenbridge History Society at the water-mill in Edenbridge and with work on the line of the Roman road which runs through that town.

Surveys have been carried out along the various motorway routes in West Kent. Construction work started on the M20, M25 and M26 during the year and help was given to KARU with excavation and patrols as sites have been found. A short training school took place in April 1978 and the students helped with the excavation at Keston and on a short rescue dig at Polhill.

Evening classes were organised by the group in conjunction with the Bromley Adult Education Centre for the eleventh successive year. These were well supported and lectures on local sites, excavation techniques and recording in the field were given by Edna Mynott and Derek Garrod.

A series of public lectures was arranged during the winter months in Bromley and had record attendances. Lecturers included Scott McCracken (Excavations in South West London'), Andrew Saunders ('Napoleonic Defences'), Philip Walker ('Excavations at the Tower of London'), Hugh Chapman ('The Museum of London') and Peter Drewett ('Rescue Archaeology in Sussex'). Post excavation work continues on the preparation of several reports for final publication. This includes drawing of finds, sections and plans; and writing pottery and small finds reports on various local sites including Lower Warbank.

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Medway Military Research Group: KEITH GULVIN.

The Group has continued its research work at Fort Amherst, Chatham, and will soon be bringing it to a conclusion. The Medway Borough Council is now in the process of buying the Fort from the Ministry of Defence to restore it and open it to the public as a Napoleonic monument with attractions such as museums and a restaurant to draw local people and tourists. An MMRG member now sits on the Council Fort Amherst sub-committee and is able to advise the Council on restoration and other matters concerning the project generally. It is planned in the near future to carry out an experimental dig on the site of a Roman building discovered in the mid-18th century when the Fort was constructed. It is hoped to ascertain whether the structure was just a farmstead or perhaps a military outpost guarding the River Medway below Rochester.

At Easter the Group held very successful Open Days at the Fort when over 3,000 people came to look round the site, static displays and the caves and magazines underneath. We have, however, been plagued by treasure hunters, using metal detectors, trespassing on the site and causing damage. As yet we have no answer to this problem.

In conjunction with the Kent Defence Research Group Branch of the Kent Archaeological Society we are carrying out a county-wide survey of all the defensive sites constructed since 1540, especially the large number of Second World War installations which for the majority were constructed without records being kept and are now disappearing at an alarming rate. Any help that can be offered by other groups on the survey would be greatly appreciated; more details of the survey can be obtained from the Secretary of MMRG.

Finally, in a slack period at the beginning of the year several of our members helped out on digs in other parts of the County, in particular at Canterbury, but with the advent of our summer programme our labour is now fully employed.

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Upchurch Archaeological Research Group: IAN JACKSON.

The storms of January gave the marsh sites in the group's area such a battering that all efforts so far this year have been to record new features opened up and exposed by the storms. The work is just now easing up as silts and seaweed move on to marsh bank and flat for the summer.

A number of new features have been recorded and have included identification of a 1st century firing place for salt winning giving a very interesting sequence of firing hollows, hearths and levelling operations along with a jumble of stake and post holes. At another site we have been fortunate in recording stake and post holes of a rectangular structure which may prove to be early 2nd century in date.

The thorough scouring taken by the marsh as a result of the rough weather displayed and brought to the group's attention recent features of marsh geology. I find interpretation of marsh soils difficult at the best of times so any new comprehensive information regarding marsh building, silt formation, creek and rill development, and colour variation is most useful if we are to read our marsh soils with any confidence.

No doubt the marsh sites will continue to keep the group occupied throughout the remainder of the year.

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