East Farleigh Blog

7th February 2016

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016.

Over the winter the site plans for East Farleigh have been digitised and published on this website, along with some notes that are an attempt to summarise the state of our knowledge after 10 years of continuous digging on the site. Go to Site Overview and East Farleigh Site Plans. We are hoping to resume on site sometime in April, hope to see you then.

18th October 2015

The weather was kind to us on Sunday and we managed to complete the remaining digging for 2015!

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.

Ditch a is the main ditch that we first saw at the end of last year and which we saw in our first trench A15A. This ditch runs west to east, and is in line to run underneath buildings 2 and 3. It is very straight and beautifully cut. It has at least two tributaries running into it from the south, i.e. up hill, one of these is b shown here edged in green, (the other is the ditch where the Iron Age coin was found). But ditch a appears to cut an earlier ditch c, which runs south east to north west. Just to confuse us we have two further features, e and f.

e is a narrow straight sided feature that is cut into the fill of ditch c, but has also been later cut by ditch a. The last event of this sequence was f which was cut into the fill of ditch a. Neither e nor f appear to be ditches, due to their profile. e could well be a beam slot, or some other sort of narrow channel. Due to the fragments of mortar and the building material seen in the section, f looks more like a robbed out wall.

The sequence therefore seems to be c e a b f. I am afraid there are no prizes for getting that right, but answers on a postcard for where and what these features are doing!

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.

11th October 2015

We are almost there for this year. Two more days of fine weather has allowed us to almost finish the last trench. Seen here a flurry of activity in this most confusing of trenches.

Here you can see the various features in this one trench: The central ditch running east/west (a in diagram from last post) is cutting through an earlier north/south ditch (c and d) which appears to have been re-cut (e). There is also another ditch (b) which appears to be feeding into the central ditch from the south east. 

All very confusing and leaves us with questions about their purpose, origin and date, and certainly provides many targets for future investigations. Interestingly all of these ditches appear to pre-date the known buildings on the site, yet there is Roman roof tile present to the base of the principle ditches, suggesting that there were standing buildings on the site when the ditches were open.

4th October 2015

Another two full days on site means that we are on course to complete the last trench in the next week or so, always presuming that we get dry weather.

This last trench is starting to reveal its secrets.

We have a number of features: a is the primary ditch which we have seen in the trenches on either side, and which looks at this stage like a drainage ditch. b c and d are tributary channels that appear to be feeding into the main channel, and appear to have been added later. f is a linear feature that has been cut into the fill of ditch a. e is a bit of a mystery at the moment, but it may be a small re-cut ditch or it might be something associated with f. As we dig these features out we should get some answers.

27th September 2015

The weather has been smiling on us and we have made good use of the fine conditions.

We are now trying to complete the last trench before the end of the season. And it looks like being interesting digging, in true Time Team fashion, revealing a junction between a number of extremely well executed drainage ditches. A recent star find is this bone pin.

We will be on site this Friday and for the next two or three weeks to finish off, weather permitting.

20th September 2015

Another two full days of digging has allowed us to complete two out of the three trenches containing the Roman ditches. We now have one further trench associated with this system to complete before the end of the season. Lets hope the weather is kind to us.

As you can see these are very precisely cut straight ditches, running at right angles to each other. Further investigation of these features in later years will hopefully shed more light on their purpose.

13th September 2015

Another full day's digging today despite some rain late morning. 

Further progress is being made in all of our trenches, with Sandra's trench almost complete.

Tanya's trench is also getting deeper.

And the star find today was a nice worked flint from Trevor's trench.

6th September 2015

We had a good day's digging today and the previous Friday. 

All of our trenches are progressing well.

We had another small late Roman coin from Trevor's trench, yet to be identified.

As you can see Sandra and Mike are working away on the ditch running east/west.

And Pauline is standing in the upper fill of another ditch which is running north/south, and will intersect with the east/west ditch just past the end of our trench. You can also see what appears to be a metalled surface in the foreground which the ditch has been dug through.

23rd August 2015

Unfortunately rain stopped play today just before lunch.

A big thank you to Sandra for the cakes left over from her birthday bash. 

Friday and this morning's digging revealed that many of the things that we thought we knew are still evolving, and keeping us on our toes, just how archaeology should be! Sandra's ditch is getting a bit wider, and the base is more flat-bottomed rather than having a slot. 

In Trevor's trench we appear now to have only one feature, what looked like a robbed-out wall now appears to be the upper fill of the same ditch in Sandra's trench, consisting largely of dressed stone and roof tile. Whist frustrating in terms of tracing the earlier missing wall, this raises new questions about the purpose and position of such a large ditch.

16th August 2015

A good days digging, no rain. Some questions are beginning to be answered.

Sandra has now reached the bottom of the ditch, which has a narrow slot running along the bottom. Very impressive! There have also been found a significant number of bones from what we believe to be a cow in the bottom of the ditch.

In the new trench which Trevor has been digging, we can start to see why we had a mismatch between the feature found at the end of last year and Sandra's ditch.

This ditch is seen here coming into the left hand side of the picture, but cut by the feature on the right hand side which seems to be turning, leading to the theory that this is a later robbed out wall and complicated by the presence of modern hop anchors. 

Some of the recent pottery finds have also been interesting.

9th August 2015

A glorious sunny day and ideal for digging, especially under the tree canopy. All trenches progressing well, but still many questions to be answered.

Sandra's trench contains this impressive ditch which we have now found both sides to, but which still needs more work to determine the bottom. Interestingly the alignment and size seem different to the feature seen at the end of the 2014 season.

Today's star find was a small copper alloy coin, identified by Elizabeth as Valentinian I, (364 - 375 AD), found in the adjacent trench.

From the 14th August, until the end of September we will also be digging on a Friday, weather permitting, if anyone would like to come along.

26th July 2015

Unfortunately the forecast rain has materialised, so no digging today.

19th July 2015

A good day digging today, weather stayed fine. All of our trenches are progressing with Sandra's ditch getting deeper and wider. 

Recent star find a small copper alloy bracelet.

12th July 2015

We got in a full day's digging today, with only a light shower over lunchtime.

A warm welcome to Pauline, who travelled from London for her first days digging with MAAG!

Work has continued to try and define the features that we have found in the trenches that we have open. No answers yet, but progress is being made. We have opened up a new trench between last year's exploratory trench and this year's work.

5th July 2015

Very wet in East Farleigh, and forecast for heavy showers all morning, so no digging today.

30th June 2015

Update on Tanya's coin. Thanks to Elizabeth and the wonders of modern technology the coin has now been identified by the coin expert as a silver minim issued in the territory of the Cantiaci. Inscribed SIIC, probably attributable to Tasciovanos, a North Thames chieftain who appears to have attempted to gain power in Kent at the end of the 1st century BC. Apparently it is very rare and maybe the first to be attributable to a particular site. Lets see if we can find some more!

28th June 2015

A good day's digging despite a bit of summer rain which barely penetrated the tree canopy. We managed to make more progress on the two trenches that we are working on.

This feature is now better defined and Trevor sorted out an anomaly at the eastern end, which turned out to be another modern hop anchor!

The other trench is also progressing, and throwing up some interesting pieces of pottery.

21st June 2015

The rain held off and we got in a fine days digging, everyone concentrating on the trenches on the eastern side of the site.

Both trenches are resolving into ditch-like features, running roughly parallel to each other. These could turn out to be robbed out walls.

Congratulations to Tanya who found her first coin! A very small coin, from the upper fill of the feature in her trench.

A smug grin to the person who can identify it before the coin expert!

14th June 2015

A perfect day for archaeology, if a bit cold. Albert managed to do some much needed surveying, and everyone worked hard to understand some of the stubbornly enigmatic trenches.


Mike is seen here exposing the extent of the modern revetment and associated roadway. Behind him can be seen the gully that Trevor was uncovering last week. It appears to be quite shallow and runs the full length of the trench. This is most likely a robbed out wall foundation, much truncated.

A cheerful Debbie can be seen in a trench positioned to recover some of the painted wall plaster from the collapsed western wall of building five.

In Tanya's trench the features are stubbornly maintaining their secrets and we will have to wait for future weeks before we will know more.

Sandra's trench is constantly changing and is starting to look more like a robbed out wall or a shallow ditch, we shall see.

31st May 2015

We managed to get in almost a full days digging, finally calling it a day at 3.30pm when a particularly heavy shower started to penetrate the tree canopy.

Sandra is seen here in all weather gear exploring a feature containing roof tile and stones. Interestingly it is at a totally different alignment with other walls and buildings so far explored.

Tanya's trench similarly seems to contain one oddly shaped feature full of building stone and roof tile as well as some nice pieces of early pottery.

Trevor's trench is also starting to look interesting. On the right hand side can be seen a row of stones indicating the back of the modern revetment. The oval feature in the centre is the modern hop garden feature. On the left you can see a row of stones that we are starting to explore. By close of play we could see that one of the ditches, the so-called 'Iron Age' ditch was running across the bottom right hand corner, but there also seemed to be a shallower feature underneath the stones, more akin to a robbed out wall. Trevor is hoping to clarify what is going on here next week. 

17th May 2015

A good turnout was matched by good weather for the day's digging. We made solid progress, although without any spectacular developments or remarkable finds. 

In the trench next to building 5 a circular feature appears to be a modern intervention probably associated with the hop garden, and the row of stones has not yet been diagnosed.

In the two trenches to the east of building 3 progress is being made slowly. We still have a number of features, both Roman and modern, and we are gradually unpicking their significance.

A warm welcome to our newest member, Tracy, who came along and joined in the digging.

10th May 2015

Perfect conditions for digging today, so no excuses for slacking. We progressed further with all of the trenches that are currently being tackled. There were no exceptional finds, but we are certainly finding new archaeological questions to answer.


Trevor and Albert here seen labouring in front of a mysterious line of stones.


Sandra's trench has a number of mysterious features that await explanation, but the hop anchor is not one of them.

Tanya's trench is just the opposite, with plenty of material to indicate Roman occupation but little in the way of features, so far.

3rd May 2015

Unfortunately the weather has beaten us today, too wet to dig. Hopefully we will have better luck next Sunday.

26th April 2015

After a damp start we managed to get a full day's digging in. More work was done to expose the area in front of building 5, revealing an interesting row of stones that could be significant. In the eastern trenches we are still trying to make sense of the features that have been uncovered. The most interesting find of the day was a piece of vessel glass.

19th April 2015

The 2015 season started on the 12th of April setting out new trenches. A mechanical digger and driver was hired and the trenches from last year were backfilled and the new trenches were dug in time for Sunday's digging.

Sunday turned out to be a dry day, and quite mild for April. With a good turn out of diggers we made a promising start on two of the new trenches.

The first two trenches to the east of the site are intended to pick up a promising feature from last year which we hope will be more of the early phase of buildings. Initial work looks promising.

The next trench is located to the south of building three. The intention here is to look at the large doorway and outside of the building to see if there is any trace of a roadway and to look at the Roman ground levels.

The next trench is outside the large, formerly blocked, entrance to building five on the northern wall. There is only a narrow strip that is available for investigation before the modern revetment truncates the Roman material. Again the intention here is to look at the area immediately outside of the building for signs of trackways or other features.

The last trench that we put in is a small exploratory trench between last years trench to the west of the site, and earlier excavations on the western wall of building five. This is to look at the fallen wall plaster that we have seen in section previously.

We have made a good start and if the weather stays fine we hope for some good archaeology, so please come and join us. Digging is oSi^_:�ݞba���9��/ru7�(sp;til 4pm as usual. We hope to add an additional weekday in due course if there is enough interest.

3rd June 2013

Work has been continuing on the East Farth a good turn out of people on Sunday in the fine weather.

The first of our two trenches is almost completed. This was the trench to the east of the site that we put in to explore a new wall that we discovered at the end of the 2012 season, which runs between buildings 2 and 3. This wall is on a similar alignment to the eastern wall of building 2, and is therefore probably contemporary with it. We have located the remnants of a floor surface associated with building 3 (the later structure that replaced building 2). This floor consists of a grey clay with stones pushed into it to form a metalled surface. The floor surface continues over the top of the newly discovered wall, confirming that the wall relates to an earlier structure that was demolished to be replaced by building 3. Finds associated with this trench include a small bone pin and a coin dated to 141 - 161 AD. This coin was a commemorative coin for Faustina I, late wife of Antonius Pius. The coin does not really assist much in the dating as large coins of this type tended to remain in circulation for some time. Frustratingly the wall does not appear to continue past the southern wall of building 3. This probably means that it originally turned at the point where it meets the south wall of building 3, making it very difficult to detect due to the later construction work for building 3.

In the second trench between buildings 3 and 5 to the west of the site, work has been continuing steadily and we have exposed some of our earlier exploratory trenches containing the wall that connects the two buildings. This wall was clearly removed down to ground level some time before the site was finally abandoned. We have yet to expose it fully. The trench has been yielding a good spread of fine pottery as well as two 4th century coins. We are still in the upper layers associated with the latter stages of occupation, but hope to make further progress as the season continues.

3rd May 2013

Digging has started for this season at East Farleigh on Sundays, from 10am until 4pm. We have two areas of interest that we are concentrating on this year. 

We have opened up a section by mechanical digger to explore the new wall that was discovered at the end of last season, between the eastern end of buildings 2 and 3. It was demolished down to the ground level of building three, suggesting that it is contemporary with the earlier phase of buildings on the site i.e. building 2. This may either be a new building entirely, or alternatively a boundary wall, either way it will give us more information about this enigmatic site.

We have also opened up a large area between buildings three and five, to explore the significance of the door to the east wall of building five, and a number of other features that we only partially saw in previous excavations, such as the post hole in the east wall of building five and the wall connecting these two buildings.

There is a lot to do and we need people to come and help with the digging in what promises to be an interesting season.

Wednesday, 24th August 2011

Four hunded people attended the Roman Buildings Open Day on the 31st July. They were treated to guided tours of the site and displays of artifacts found on the site. Members of the Group were on hand to explain the various finds and answer any questions that members of the public may have had.

Poster board displays of previous work carried out by the Group in the last twenty years were shown to illustrate the different archaeological work carried out in that period.

The buildings displayed this year were the kitchen range, displayed last year, together with a section of the Iron Age ditch which passed under its north wall and the central section of the two buildings located to the east. These buildings are now known to be barns, with 3.6m and 3.3m wide doors located mid way on the south wall.

Building 2 was demolished to construct the larger building 3 , but using the same floor level. A long flue corn dryer was built into the floor of building 3. The fill of the corn dryer contained a late fourth century bone pin. Two coins dating to around 240 A D were found under the floor, which indicates a mid third century construction date. The buildings will be backfilled later this year in order to prevent deteriation of the walls and floors.

Wednesday, 27th July 2011

Excavation continues on buildings 2 and 3. Building 2 was demolished when building 3 was erected and they appear to share the same floor level. The main south door, being about 200mm higher, has resulted in a layer of broken roof tile capped with clay being inserted across the floor for  the width of the door to allow carts access.

In the western part of the building a circular structure 1.2 metres in diameter with a 200mm wide flue to the north is interpreted as a corn drying oven, The floor of the dryer appears to be a 200kg piece of ragstone which has now been removed in order that we can examine the construction underneath. In a branch flue a double conical bone pin ( Crummy type 5D ) was located in the fill.

Hope to see you all at the Open Day on Sunday, 31st July - 11am to 3-30pm.

Thursday, 7th July 2011

Excavation of building 3 is continuing.

The western half is now down to 100mm above floor level. The eastern half is about one third down to floor level, although it appears to be an earth floor. The threshold of the 3.6m wide door is now exposed. It appears that a 3m wide 2nd century ditch passses under the floor. This may be the same ditch which is under building 5. Finds are limited to pot sherds, nails and bones. No special finds.

On building 5 the Iron-Age ditch section will be on display on our Open Day on Sunday, 31st July. Part of the building will be left uncleaned in order to illustrate the decay over eight months even with the site covered for winter. New display stands for posterboards are being made to replace ones destroyed in the winter arson attack on the containers. 

Sunday, 26th June 2011

Excavations at East Farleigh this year are concentrating on the central section of building 3 and the underlying building 2.

Building 3 is 28m by 8m. The central area, 15m by 10m, is being totally excavated. The top 500mm of stone and baked hard hillwash have been machine excavated and the previous trial pits emptied out.   The western half of the area has been reduced to 200mm above the floor. Three square metres of floor have been uncovered, revealing a mortar floor which showed signs of severe burning. Ash and charcoal is present on parts of the floor.

One coin and a small amount of pottery, together with some animal bone, has been excavated. Two bone pins and a decorated antler knife handle came from a trial pit against the outside of the south wall. A 3.6m wide doorway has been located midway along the south wall. Unfortunately the similar position on the north wall is missing, having been removed by the pre-second world war land re-profiling which was carried out to construct a new hop garden for the Courage Brewery.