East Farleigh Site Plan
Digging at East Farleigh has finished for the 2015 season Our last trench has finally been fully excavated. And a tricky bit of archaeology it proved to be, with at least 5 features inter-cutting one another in a small trench. This year we have had a very successful season, with many interesting finds including a rare silver Iron Age minim. We managed to find a new feature in front of building 5 which may be a previously unknown robbed out wall. We uncovered a network of drainage ditches to the east of the site, which will have to wait for future excavations to be fully explained. And we think that we have a strong contender for the missing wall. The information on the site has definitely moved on.
If we are able to return to East Farleigh next year we have no shortage of new questions to answer and possible targets to pursue. It only remains for me to say a big thank you to those members who came along and contributed their time, whether digging, pot washing or marking, without committed attendees we would not have been able to uncover this fascinating site. Thank you and Happy New Year.
April 2015Excavations for 2015 started on the 12th April. For 2015 we will be looking at features on the eastern edge of the site related to the earlier phase of buildings contemporary with building 2. We will also be looking at the external approaches to the southern entrance to building 3 and the northern approach to building 5. Trenches have been opened with a mechanical digger, and we look forward to an interesting season's digging, weather permitting. Please see the MAAG Blog for ongoing details.
The Group have had another interesting and productive season at this site, just when we thought that the excavation had closed. Several issues have been resolved, and work has continued throughout the season. No further excavation will take place this year and backfilling will take place in a few weeks' time in order to preserve the site.
Once again, our thanks to everyone who has been involved with the excavation during this season, in whatever capacity.
Our thanks to everyone who has been involved with the excavation of this site, in whatever capacity. This excavation has certainly raised the profile of our Group and archaeology in general, and we look forward to whatever new challenges lie ahead!
Following machine back-filling and digging a number of blank trial pits, the excavation at East Farleigh has now been reduced to two trenches, which need to be finished, and some surveying and levelling which still needs to be completed.
This Sunday, 19th August, members are invited to come and help with the final landscaping and tidying up for a couple of hours.
No further excavations will be carried out on Fridays.
Please contact Albert (07964 395891) or us for futher details in relation to the possibility of digging on future Sundays.
Work resumed on Sunday, 6th May; further information to follow soon.
Excavations in 2011 have concentrated on excavating a further section of the Iron-Age ditch underlying the kitchen building (building 5) and uncovering the central section of the two barn buildings (buildings 2 and 3), which overlay each other.
In building 2 the main door had a 3.2 metre wide opening located on the south side. The south wall extended further to the west than the east, indicating that it was not central. The floor was of beaten earth. The walls consisted of ragstone 450mm wide on a 600mm wide mortared foundation, on 700mm plus of trench-fill dry ragstone.
North of this wall, and about 2 metres from it, is another wall built of dry stone 300mm wide on a 600mm wide large stone base. This is interpreted as the foundation of a timber framed building which superseded building 2. This in turn was demolished and replaced by building 3, a barn 28 metres long by 8 metres wide with a 3.6 metre wide doorway mid-way along the south side. The floor in the western side of building 3 consisted of compact burnt sandy-clay with a long flue corn dryer built into it. A clay ramp led down from the door on to the earth floor in the east side of the barn. Coins located in building 3 indicate that construction took place in around 250 AD. Only a few small finds were located this year.
The buildings are to be back filled for the winter. It was thought that the sale of the site would necessitate the excavation having to be closed down this year; however, we now hope that we might still be permitted to continue. If so, it is hoped that we can locate further buildings by the use of geophysics and trial pits in 2012.
This month, as part of their support of local charities and community groups, The Gallagher Group gave us a generous donation towards the excavation of East Farleigh Roman Villa: http://www.gallagher-group.co.uk/news/item.php?id=27
This funding was very much appreciated, and will be of great benefit in our 2011 season when we return to the site to begin more investigations of this complex set of buildings.
The Group has been excavating a group of Roman buildings at East Farleigh since 2005. A Roman building was discovered here in the 1830s and a measured plan of it was published in a small book called The Topography of Maidstone and its Environs by J. Smith in 1839. Further foundations were discovered in 1938 - probably when the site was landscaped for hop gardens. In the 1990s the hop fields were replaced by a tree plantation, although the area where the building was supposed to be was retained as grassland to prevent damage by roots.
The Group was contacted in 2005 by the land owner to enquire if we would like to locate and excavate the building.
The building was located using a geophysical survey and subsequent excavation uncovered a building measuring 29m by 15m and consisting of three rooms surrounded on three sides by a 4m-wide corridor. Unfortunately only the unmortared ragstone foundations of the building remained so there was little evidence of its original purpose. Pottery and the odd coin showed the building to date from the mid 3rd Century (about 250 AD).
In 2007 trial pits were dug about 50m to the south and one located another wall and subsequently a further four buildings were found. Three of these seem to have been non-domestic, possibly storage, buildings and one included a workshop with a 2m diameter hearth. The fourth building (Building 5) has been fully excavated over the past two years and a generous grant from the Mayor of Maidstone’s Charity Fund enabled the hire of a machine to remove most of the overburden over the whole of this building.
Building 5 measures about 13m by 11.5m and consists of two rooms surrounded on three sides by a 2.5m-wide corridor. Again the walls are of mortared ragstone standing to over a metre high in places with fragments of painted plaster. This building was also probably built around 250 AD but it has been adapted over time - it may originally have been a temple - but ended its life around 400 AD as a bakery, as suggested by the fact that two circular ovens and pieces of a pair of quern stones have been found.
The group of buildings may well have been part of a Roman farmstead that supplied those working at the quarries near Dean Street, a mile or so away, which supplied the ragstone used to construct the walls of Roman London. It is possible that further buildings remain to be found at the site but they are likely to be too deeply buried to be within the resources of the Group to excavate.
When the buildings were demolished some time after 400 AD most of the ragstone seems to have been left behind - presumably because it is so abundant in the area - but most of the roofing tiles were removed for re-use elsewhere.
Interesting finds have included a bronze strigil (used by the Romans to scrape dirt from their skin during bathing), a bunch of keys, a bronze child’s bracelet, a gaming counter, bone pins and a fragment of a glass vessel. Once processed all the finds will be handed over to Maidstone Museum.
Further excavations might take place during 2011 - watch this space for further details during March/April.
A full report will be published in due course.