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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Summer House Knoll, Lullingstone Park.
by G K Horner.

The Crayford Archaeological Research Group began in September 1964, excavating at Summer House Knoll in Lullingstone Park at a point where first-century pottery had been observed on the field surface. Aerial photographs were thought to show a linear ditch running for at least half a mile through the park and crossing this point. This "ditch" has now been disproved, the indication on the photograph being due to a partially buried negative lynchet.

Trenching rapidly revealed a sub-rectangular enclosure, about 60 feet square, bounded by a ditch. Much of the Roman ground level has been eroded by plough, but at its deepest point the ditch is now some 3 feet deep and 5 feet wide. It is neatly cut with a V-shaped section and a slightly rounded bottom. The corners are near right angles.

The ditches appear to have been filled deliberately between about AD 60-90, probably towards the end of that period. No later pottery has yet been discovered.

The area bounded by the ditch encloses several substantial post-holes. Some of these are relatively modern, perhaps remains of a deer fence. An insufficient area has been cleared to give any idea of the plan of the early post-holes. No pits or other structures have been recovered. There is a little burnt clay, but no tile.

At a point near the middle of the east side of the enclosure a ditch, shallower but otherwise similar to the enclosure ditch, branches out at right angles and travels for over 20 feet. It has not yet been further examined.

In summary, it appears that the site may be a small first-century farmstead, possibly surrounded by its own ditched fields. It went out of use at a time when the villas of the Darenth Valley were being built and when, it seems, smaller farms were being swallowed up by larger estates. There are several sites within a mile of the present one producing a pottery series ending at a similar date.

The site is an exciting one in that it should be possible to reveal the plan of a complete early Roman farmstead. The ground is likely to change ownership shortly, and the work must be carried out as soon as possible.

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