28th November 2017

Our last active day on site for 2017 was accompanied by rain, hail, sunshine, and a cold breeze. We were joined by Andrew Mayfield and his colleague Richard Taylor from the KCC community team to do a magnetometry survey of the site. This went well, despite the meteorological challenges, and Richard managed to cover an area over this year's excavated area and a good portion of the paddock area to the east where we have never excavated. Andrew and Richard are still working on the data, but initial results showed up a continuation of the drainage ditch well into the field, and a trackway to the south. Unfortunately much of the data around our digging area was badly affected by the ground disturbance caused by the backfilling process. This was a fantastic achievement and we owe Richard and Andrew a massive thank you for their time and effort on this one.

The site is now closed for the winter, and our next job is to try and get the mass of data that we have gathered into some sort of order ready for publication. Our return to the site is uncertain but we will update this blog with any developments.

It only remains for me to thank everyone for their efforts in 2017, it has been a fantastic season and we have achieved a great deal. Thank you. 

26th November 2017

Our last Sunday on site was an opportunity to remove the tools and other materials from the site, and to tidy up the after the digger. All those present put in a lot of hard work to try and return the site to how we found it twelve years ago in very muddy and cold conditions. A big thank you to everyone who helped out.

24th November 2017

Today was backfilling day. A perfect still mild autumn day, ideal for archaeology and a real bonus at the end of November. 2017 has been our longest and arguably most productive season to date, and it has provided us with numerous clues to the nature of the site that can be followed up sometime in the future.

Mike Howard did a splendid job to get all nine trenches backfilled in what was a long day, starting at 07.45 and finishing just after 4pm. But the archaeology refused to go quietly. A good turn out of diggers were still chasing features as the soil from the mechanical digger was refilling their trenches behind them.

Elizabeth and Annette worked extremely hard to uncover the rest of the kiln feature in their trench, which it is clear was cut through by a later feature that we though was a road heading north, (we are now not so sure of this).

With a little help from the machine and a lot of hard work, we were able to extend the trench with the wall running south from building six to see if it turned as we believed it must. However, in a last act of obfuscation, the wall morphed into a rough surface area of stones, some of which looked suspiciously as though they had come from the wall. Leaving us with yet another question to answer.

Despite the trenches all being filled in, there are still chores to be done on site. So we will be doing a short day on Sunday to try and tidy up the site and remove our tools and equipment before the new land owner takes over on Friday. So please do come along and assist if you can, many hands make light work.

Our final visit to the site is scheduled for Tuesday, when we are expecting to do some surveying work with Andrew Mayfield from the KCC community team.  



23rd November 2017

Since my last post, much has been happening on site. This week we have done three days extra digging, and are still hoping to finish a few last things tomorrow whilst Mike Howard is back filling the trenches. We have been lucky that the weather has been kind to us with bright dry, yet cold, days. Only problem has been the rain overnight has made conditions a little muddy.

Everyone has been working very hard to get the trenches finished before we have to leave.

The main development of note is the confirmation of the wall running to the north of building six. We thought it was but the evidence was not as strong as we'd have liked, so to have it confirmed is very gratifying. It now raises questions about where it goes, because our trenches in that area should have revealed it if it was there, suggesting that it turns to the east.

Similarly, on the south side of the building we have picked up the same wall, but then lost it again before our next trench! Again it probably turns to the east.

In our other trench we have broken through the 'road' surface to reveal a large pit beneath, containing amongst other things an articulated skeleton of a dog.

We still have much to do on Friday and Sunday, so please do come along if you can.

19th November 2017

Another bright, dry, yet chilly day on site. We are doing well with all of the three trenches that we are working on.

In Sandra's trench, 17E, she has removed the stone layer to reveal an almost clean layer beneath. There are some subtle changes but what is difficult to come to terms with is that the substantial road surface seen in the next trench does not appear to be running through in the same form. Additionally the other surface has disappeared in the next trench. This suggests that there were two tracks on slightly different alignments, one presumably replacing the other, only to become obsolete in time too.

Mike and Annette have continued working on the wall running south from building six. They have extended the trench slightly to confirm the width of the wall and inserted a slot to confirm the number of courses.

Here you can see Elizabeth cleaning around a group of stone that turned out to be nothing more than some of the make-up of the road structure.

We will be on site again tomorrow, Monday, lets hope the weather stays dry. If anyone would like to come along there will be plenty to do.

17th November 2017

A bright frosty dry day on site. Good progress in all of the trenches, with Annette and Mike doing great work on the new trench over the wall running south from building six. In Sandra's trench we are no nearer to working out what is going on. The stone spread has gone and we are getting hints of other soil characteristics, but it is far from clear.

The main excitement was the culmination of work in the lime kiln trench extension 17F, where a road surface has been revealed running due north. This is a very substantial structure, with a metalled surface over a base of clay, chert, stone and tile. The section that we are looking at has slumped into the earlier lime kiln feature beneath.

These are the last few days that we will be on site, but they are crucial as we are uncovering important features and we need to get them dug and recorded before we leave the site at the end of the season. We are hoping to be on site this Sunday, and there will be an additional day on Monday, (usual times). Please come along for the final push as there is a lot to do and not much time to do it in, all help gratefully received. 

Backfilling is due on Friday the 24th, which will also be the last opportunity to work on any of the trenches. Additionally we have arranged to have some survey work done the following week through the auspices of Andrew Mayfield and the KCC Community team. 

11th November 2017

A very bracing day on site, but at least it did not rain.

We are racing to finish the remaining trenches that we have open before we have to vacate the site at the end of the month.

Mike has been doing a splendid job exposing the wall running off the southern side of building six. This was tough going as the ground here is exceedingly hard and dry despite recent rain.

In the next trench, 17E where Sandra and Tanya have been working we were expecting to see the same wall emerge,

as can be seen from the image on Friday, there is a spread of stones where the wall should be. However these are not building stones that have been in a wall but natural stone that has been dug out and discarded. By the end of Sunday the only thing that we knew for sure was that we did not have a continuation of the wall in the trench, seen here in the second pic.

In the other trench, 17F, Elizabeth and Annette have been working hard to sort out what is happening with this feature. It appears to be a depression that has been filled with later material. It is possible that it is the road surface seen in the previous trench,17E, that has slumped and then been filled in.

Before we leave the site we are hoping to get some survey work done which might help us interpret some of the features that we are seeing.

5th November 2017

Bright and sharp with a cold wind but dry, we set about working on the new areas exposed by the digger on Friday. 

In the newly extended 17F you can see Tanya working on what appears to be a large pit.

Sandra is back in a trench that she dug earlier in the year, where we have extended it to see how far the road surface extends and its relationship to the wall running off the southern side of building six. As you can see the metalled surface ends abruptly and Sandra is just starting to uncover the wall at the far end of the trench.

Mike is in a completely new trench, put in to uncover a section of the wall. The going has been very dry, in spite of rain on Saturday, but some stones are just starting to emerge.

3rd November 2017

A mild dry autumn day, with a misty start, accompanied our first day of backfilling with a hired mechanical digger, ably driven by Mike Howard. The machine arrived at 0730 and we were able to start before eight. Mike was able to backfill one of the smaller trenches and the main one containing building six. He was also able to use the machine to extend two other trenches and dig a small new one over the wall running off the south of building six.

We also took the opportunity to follow the wishes of the Simmons Family and inter Trevor's boots as a mark of respect - a modern day ritual deposit.

A high turnout of diggers allowed us to make a good start on the newly uncovered areas.

The decision to start the backfilling was vindicated when the owner of the site informed us that she had agreed to proceed with the sale of her house and land and that we would be required to vacate by the 4th of December this year. Whilst this is disappointing, it was not unexpected, and we should be grateful that we have been able to complete the season and all of the trenches that we started back in March. Between now and December we need to finish all of the new areas to the same standard as previously and it is vital that we have enough diggers on Fridays and Sundays to achieve this. It may also be possible that we will be able to find extra days in the week to get the most from this final push.

For anyone eager to find out what has been achieved on the site this year and over the past twelve years, there will be an opportunity to hear all about it, and ask questions at the evening meeting in Maidstone on Friday the 10th November.
 

29th October 2017

A bright autumn day and a lot of hard work meant that we were able to achieve most of our goals for the day. Time appears to be running out for us on site this year as we are intending to start the backfilling process next week to protect the building from the frost.

Tanya and Annette cleaned the building ready for a final photo whilst Elizabeth raced to excavate a late feature that has appeared in the entrance way on the eastern side of the building.

This now appears to be a large feature, possibly a ditch, filled with stones to consolidate the ground in anticipation of the building above it. Unfortunately we are not going to get the chance to explore this theory further this year.

Sandra has completed her ditch section to the south east of the site.

22nd October 2017

A blustery autumn day, yet crucially rain free allowed us to make good progress.

Sandra is almost at the bottom of her ditch and it is hope we can finish that trench soon. In trench 17F where we had previously found what appears to be a quick lime kiln we have found further evidence of heat and burning along with the remnants of a metalled surface. Unfortunately these features all continue outside of the trench.

In the trench over building six, Elizabeth did a splendid job cleaning the area of surfacing to the west of the entrance, which confirmed that the surface is present but does not appear to extend to the north. And Mike and David have extended the trench to the east to confirm the line of the track there. In the centre Tanya has done a great job exposing some early features, yet to be identified, that are underneath the flooring of the building.

15th October 2017

A lovely warm day for mid October allowed us to make further progress in all trenches.

In her trench amongst the trees Sandra thinks that she has now reached the bottom of her ditch, which appears to be much shallower than elsewhere. Gillian and John did more sterling work on their trench 17F, which is stubbornly refusing to give up its secrets. In the main trench over building six Mike has done a great job of further exposing a gulley and post hole in the south western corner, and in the process identifying another small post hole nearby. 

On the other side of this trench Tanya and Annette have removed the top metalled surface to see how far the mortar spread extended. Their efforts were rewarded with the discovery of another void which could be a post hole and the knowledge that the mortar layer peters out.

13th October 2017

Good progress was made in all trenches today. Gill did a splendid job of cleaning up the surfaces to the east of building six ready for photographic recording. Gillian and John worked tirelessly in their trench, 17F, taking it down a little further. Amongst the trees, Sandra is gradually descending into the ditch there. Mike has been doing great work on the southeastern corner of the trench over building six, where the gulley at the side of the track surface is becoming more distinct and now appears to terminate in a post hole or soak-away.

8th October 2017

Another fine October day, and good progress in all trenches.

Sandra's trench amongst the trees is coming along nicely, we are now able to see the remains of the road surface clearly and the ditch is also very well delineated.

  

In the main trench over building six we have been working on the metalled surfaces that extend away to the east, and simultaneously back to the west. Both of these were coming into focus today thanks to the hard work of all those who have been working on these areas. What we are now seeing is a road surface aligned with the two entrances to the building, supporting the view that the building was serving as an entranceway to this part of the site, at least in a later phase of its life. This may not sound that exciting but it is the first time that we have seen tracks or roads associated with the buildings.

Star find was a fragment of quern stone found in the demolition layer, presumably treated as just another piece of stone once it was broken. You can just see the slot for the wooden handle on the side.


1st October 2017

Despite the uncertain weather forecast, we managed to get in a full day without getting wet.

Once again we concentrated our efforts on the new trench amongst the trees, following the drainage ditch. First thing to notice is that we decided to remove the baulk in the centre close to the modern land drain. This was not really serving a purpose and was making the archaeology difficult to read. On the western side of the trench you can now see a layer of stones that appear to have been laid as a surface running alongside the ditch. We have seen this before in previous trenches associated with this feature. At first we thought that it might have been a natural phenomenon, but it is now clear that it is not. The question is what is the purpose of it?

The ditch itself is much narrower, and probably shallower than further down the hill to the north, and contains a lot of charcoal, and several pieces of a distinctive box-flue tile.


29th September 2017

A somewhat squally day but we concentrated on the latest trench, 17H, in amongst the trees, and managed to get some good work done. The archaeology is much closer to the surface here and we were able to get down onto the top of the ditch very quickly. The small baulk running across the centre of the trench is a modern land drain that we have seen on previous occasions. We intend to work around this and repair the digger damage before we leave it.


24th September 2017

A glorious September day meant that we made good progress digging, but the photography was compromised by the bright sunshine.

Sandra finally finished her trench, which contained a very nice and not inconsequential ditch running south west, north east. There is nothing to suggest that this ditch is not a Roman feature, however it is notoriously difficult to date the original digging of a ditch. Interestingly there seem to have been one or more pits dug into the fill of the ditch before it was finally filled in. She has done a fantastic job of single-handedly digging this trench, and she has now started work on the last of the machine prepared trenches, trench 17H.


In trench 17F we are still struggling to nail down some ephemeral features. Much progress was made on Friday and the shallow ditch crossing the trench has now been removed to reveal the extent of the burnt feature beneath.

In the main trench over building six we are making good progress extending to the east where we are starting to see the metalled surface appearing, confirming that there does seem to be a wide access-way from the east. David has also started removing the last of the overburden from our barrow run in the south eastern corner of the trench.

The star find by Debbie was another nice piece of decorated Samian, very close to where the other pieces were found.

If you have been eagerly awaiting blog updates recently and are frustrated that they are taking a long time to appear, I apologise that we appear to be reaching the limits that our community site can handle. We will try and find a way to improve the way that the site works.