Kent Archaeological Review extract

Thornton Lane, Eastry -- an Early Boundary.
by Sister M M O'Grady.

The subject of boundaries is interesting and misty. Little is known about the origin of parish, lathe, hundred and manorial boundaries. This fact was recognised by Topley See Reference [1] when he suggested that old boundaries appear to have been related to the main physical features of the country. Ancient boundaries which are connected with local physical features often arouse speculation as to their age.

One such boundary is a sunken track. Thornton Lane, which hot dens the south- west of Eastry village. It is one mile in length and was a boundary between two manors in the Middle Ages. with Eastry to its east and Adisham to its west. See Reference [2]. At Domesday the same boundary separated the hundred of Downhamford to the west from the hundred of Eastry to the east. See Reference [3]. A suspicion that the same track is even older has been aroused by other evidence. Mrs S Chadwick Hawkes discovered four burials at the north end of the same track, just south of Eastry See Reference [4], ten years ago. At present there is nothing to date these burials, but since three other burial centres of Anglo-Saxon date have been found in the same neighbourhood it looks as if the fourth burial centre may also belong to the Anglo- Saxons.

In addition two Bronze Age tumuli See Reference [5] have been found close to the same track at Shingleton, one on either side of the road. This evidence suggests Bronze Age settlement in the immediate area. The fact that the tumuli occur opposite to one another on either side of the track may be an indication that the track was used as a highway, earlier. It has been suggested that some of the old boundaries in East Anglia and in the Hebrides belong to the pre-historic period.

In conclusion, it is evident that the ancient boundary of Thornton Lane was formerly a manorial and a hundredal track. The presence of Anglo-Saxon burials and of the Bronze Age tumuli suggests that its origin may be even older.


Footnote 1.

Topley, W. Parish Boundaries in South-East England. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, III (1874) page 54. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 2.

Hasted, Edward. The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, X. page 390 (Map). Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 3.

Victoria County History of Kent, Volume III (1932) London page 218. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 4.

Chadwick Hawkes, S. Paper, awaiting publication. An Anglo-Saxon Burial at Eastry House, Eastry, Kent. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 5.

Ashbee, P and Dunning, C C. The Round Barrows in East Kent, Archaeologia Cantiana, lxxiv, (1960) page 48. Return to the paragraph.
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