This article appeared in the Spring 1966 (Issue #3) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Operation Gas-Pipe -- Completed.
The five-month watching brief by the West Kent Border Archaeological Group on the SEG Board's new pipe-line, being laid from Greenwich to Ewell in Surrey, was completed in November.
Almost every inch of the pipe trench was examined in detail for several miles on both sides of the Kent-Surrey border. When the trench reached Hooley, on the A23 Brighton road, the Group handed over to Surrey groups and the watch will continue until the end.
The potential of such a vast excavation crossing wide areas of the archaeological unknown was soon apparent with five sites being recorded in the First three miles. In all 31 sites, which could be technically described as archaeological, were recorded for the first time. Nothing was revealed where the trench crossed known sites and certainly these new sites tended to appear in the most unlikely places.
Seven of the new sites produced dateable material. Two were of Iron Age date, three of Roman date and two of Medieval date. Four of these were found in Kent and the other three in Surrey.
On the Kent side the first was found near Bromley Common. This site produced a large quantity of pottery, mostly from a small ditch and an occupational-scatter extending for about 100 feet. The material, all of first century date, including Samian ware and a pedestal-urn of Belgic type.
The second site, found near Barnet Wood, produced several potsherds of probable iron Age date, again from the filling of a ditch or pit. Few Iron Age sites are known in this area and it might be possible to examine this site in detail.
The third site was encountered on farmland at West Wickham, close to where Roman pottery was found in 1889. Two very large pits produced important stratified deposits of late Iron Age-early Romano-British date and yet another farmstead site seems to be indicated.
The fourth Kent site was located south of Layhams Farm, being represented by a series of shallow pits and gullies. These produced several potsherds of first century AD date and it may be that this site relates to material found about 600 yards away in 1964. Further excavations here might reveal a site of considerable importance.
The decision to watch this trench and the considerable effort involved were richly rewarded. Our distribution maps of settlement along the West Kent border and in adjacent parts of Surrey have received useful additions. Altogether the many new sites have completely changed the pattern of Romano-British settlement in the region and clearly more sites remain to be found.