Kent Archaeological Review extract

The Mound in Shoulder of Mutton Wood, Wouldham.
by J M Preston.
(Lower Medway Archaeological Group.)

The mound (TQ 726 652) is sometimes known as Wouldham Castle' and is marked on large scale maps as a 'tumulus'. The mound is mentioned in the 'Earthworks' section of the Victoria County History -- see Reference [1] as an 'isolated mount of unknown date' which 'bears appearance of extreme age, but record is silent as to the period of its construction.' The report adds 'We may be tempted to suggest that it was an outpost of the Norman works at Rochester, three miles northward, but cannot so affirm.' A cross-section was also given, as below.

DRAWING: Cross-section through mound.

Cross-section through mound.

In November, 1968 members of the Maidstone Arch Soc dug a small trench at the foot of the mound, radially, on a bearing of 354° mag. The top-soil was loam and weathered chalk rubble. Solid chalk beneath fell away westwards toward the Medway. A second trench on the same alignment cutting the rim revealed layers of chalk rubble following the general contour of the rim. Further digging to join the trenches revealed something of the construction. No artefact was found.

At Whitsun, 1974 members of the Lower Medway ARG investigated the site further. Measurement of the top of the rim produced a square with sides approx. 22-25 feet in length. The construction consisted of the banking up of four roughly straight sides of chalk rubble. The inner corners had been rounded and the outer ones weathered, giving a rounded rather than square appearance. The banks stood 7-8 feet above the surrounding area on the north, east and south sides, but the height on the west was accentuated by the land falling away.

The top-soil was cleared from the top of the rim at the south-east corner. Chalk rubble was found after 2 inches, but there was no trace of post-holes or any other structure. A trench was then dug radially some 15 feet north on the East Bank, starting 9 feet from the top of the bank and extending for 14 feet. A shallow ditch was found 19 feet from the top of the bank. Several pieces of clay-pipe stem were found immediately on the chalk rubble at the foot of the slope. Another trench was then dug from the high point on the rim on the west side, some 10 feet from the North-West corner, towards the centre of the mound. The first 5 feet from the rim comprised ½ inch top-soil over chalk rubble. The trench was extended a further 7 feet 6 inches and the contour of the rubble traced. In the bowl of the mound one foot of top-soil (leaf mould etc.) had built up. Below this and above the chalk rubble was a layer of fine chalky loam. Scattered in this loam to a depth of 4 feet were numerous pieces of clay pipe, ten potsherds (one with green glaze) a fragment of a blue glass bowl, the base of a small clear glass bottle, a 12 centimetre handmade nail and snail shells, all probably dating from the 18th Century.

This evidence seems to eliminate any fanciful idea of great antiquity. The obvious answer then would be, considering its hilltop position, that this is a mill-mound. There is, however, no mention of a mill in this area in W Coles Finch, Watermills and Windmills. Nor does a mill appear on Hasted's map or indeed any other map. Further research has produced a map printed in 1831 Map of the City of Rochester and Liberties surveyed in the Year 1822 by William Bushell (copy in Rochester Museum) where the slope to the east of the site is titled Hill and the mound marked as 'Part of Mill Hill'. The mound then stood in the field to the west with the wood and right-of-way to the east. The field boundary has since moved west- ward. It seems from the evidence, therefore, that the reason for the mound was that it supported a short-lived windmill sometime in the 18th Century.


Footnote 1.

Victoria County History, Kent. Volume 1 (1906), page 411. Return to the paragraph.
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