This article appeared in the Winter 1965 (Issue #2) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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News from the Groups.
Information received in February led to a preliminary examination of the site at Minster Sewage Works where the contractors had uncovered a complete pottery flagon and a samian dish, possibly from a burial contained in the lower part of an amphora tentatively date 1st-2nd century AD.
An excavation is planned by the Thanet Group, and a full complement of volunteer labour has already been booked, and enough equipment is available. Negotiations are taking place with the local authority and the public work contractors. Members are requested not to visit the site as this would prejudice good relations with these bodies, and in any case the site is closed to the public. The circumstances in which information reached the Group reveal, once again, the need for vigilance and speedy action. (NGR TR 309 631).
At Stourmouth, during the digging of a drainage trench, a small hoard of six socketed bronze axes. two gouges, an arrowhead(?) and four lumps of bronze were found, associated with a potsherd decorated with finger-tip decoration. Further examination of the find-spot is planned by the Group. (NGR TR 264 625).Back to Top.
At the invitation of Lord Hawarden, Mr Frank Jenkins, FSA, is supervising the re-excavation of the Roman Villa at Wingham Court, Wingham. The site was uncovered in 1881-2, but the published report is very inadequate by modern standards, hence it is felt that a re-examination of the building should prove useful. As a preliminary to the excavations, a resistivity survey has been carried out by Mr A J Clark, FSA.
An interesting group of pottery was found on the site of the new Eliot College of the University of Kent at Canterbury. The pottery is of late-13th Century types and includes at least five jugs, one of which is complete, a dish, and several cooking pots. The quality of the ware and associated burnt clay strongly suggest that there is a kiln in the vicinity. The pottery lay at a depth of 15 feet below ground level in a clay pit dug into the natural clay and subsequently back-filled with mixed soil. All the pottery is evidently of local manufacture, and is characteristic of the industry which flourished in the Tyler Hill area in the 13th century. The site of the clay pit is on the southern boundary of the pottery producing area.Back to Top.
A local emergency scheme for chance finds has been introduced. The scheme includes both chance finds and those from demolitions, and outlines essential points of information to be noted before any action: full site details, the nature of the emergency, details of contractor and owner, details of local members' phone numbers, and instructions for further action.
A full examination of the aerial photographs (Air Ministry, 1946) of the region between Sittingbourne, Maidstone and Charing has been completed and six new sites have been included in the 85 sites already listed, including the 19th century Lazarus foundations at Chetney Hill; three sites are in the vicinity of Sittingbourne. A study of die OS Card Index will complete our own which contains details of location, nature of site, previous finds, source of information, owner of site and suggested policy.
The Association for Cultural Exchange has communicated with the Group, and it should be possible for American students of history or archaeology to take part in field-work every year; this year two history students helped at Tonge Castle.
At Tonge Castle, area excavation and deep sections are now being undertaken on the habitation area of the middle mound, and in the parts of the dry moat surrounding the manor. Trenches up to 9 feet deep have been opened in the moat ditch and part of the mound top; excavations by the present main gate and between the middle and the highest mound have now been completed. Excavations of the mound top revealed traces of wooden structures whose plan is yet to be confirmed. The domestic buildings of the middle mound are now being excavated. To date, it seems that the "Castle" consisted of two enlarged hills, partly encircled by a very deep moat. One of the mounds only seems to have been used for habitation, where a small hall and kitchen have been uncovered. The moat appears to belong to the late-13th or early-14th century. The habitation is a manor house, and not a true castle. A full report is being prepared for a future volume of Archaeologia Cantiana.
In field survey, chalkwells have been recorded at Fulston Manor, Sittingbourne, at Hucking, near Maidstone, plans and sections were drawn and a photographic record made of a deep unfinished chalkwell, 15 similar sites have been listed. Trenching in Milton Churchyard revealed Roman masonry, including a tessellated floor; this site (VCH III, 96) is to be re-examined. Field traces, perhaps of Roman buildings have been collected from Bax Farm (NGR TQ 945 639). Examination of the Radfield site (NGR TQ 939 629. Arch. Cant., lxvi, 156-7) is to be made. Further examination of the site of the Bredgar coin-hoard and further coins were found in May 1965. A programme of weekend work is intended for the examination of Castle Rough, Danish Burgh (NGR TQ 917 659) and salt pans at Iwade, and the re-examination of the Jutish Barrow Cemetery at Whiteheath, Honingbourne. Domestic and pottery sites were confirmed, in co-operation with the Lower Medway Archaeological Research Group, at Lower Halstow. A ground survey revealed an earthwork at Milstead.Back to Top.
The Group has continued its excavation of the late Bronze Age farmstead site on Hayes Common where two cylindrical clay loom-weights have been found, and also large pieces of sandstone saddle quern, very similar to one found at Albury, Surrey. About 100 sherds of late Bronze Age pottery in an extremely poor condition have been found in pits, and a ditch which seems to have delimited the site to the cast; it is hoped that further work will reveal an enclosure.
The Romano-British building, mentioned in the previous report, has now been partially excavated, and it seems very likely that this is a bath-block of 1st-century date; its minimum length is 40 feet, and three rooms have been identified. The walls are 2 feet thick, built of chalk with bonding courses of tile and brick. One wall still stands to a height of 4 feet 9 inches and is plastered; this room had a floor of opus signinum resting upon re-used hypocaust tiles. There is a hypocaust and a furnace arch has been located at the east end. but attempts to find the occupation site have so far failed.
Members of the Group have helped on emergency excavations at Faversham Roman Villa, and more locally on the Gas-Pipe (see page 24, above). The Group continues to agitate for a local museum, and its monthly meetings will be resumed in September.Back to Top.