West Kent Border Archaeological Group
The first archaeological training school in Kent was started at Bromley in January, 1968 (KAR Number 12 page 6). This was organised by the West Kent Border Archaeological Group, the Bromley and Beckenham Evening Education Centres and supported by the KARGC. A total of 92 students, drawn from different parts of West Kent, took part in three separate classes. The first part of the course consisted of a series of evening lectures dealing with various aspects of British archaeology, excavation method and techniques. These were supplemented by lectures on major Kentish excavations and slides of museum collections. Visits were also made to local sites including one to the Iron Age hill fort at Holwood, Keston, one of the largest and most impressive monuments in the county. Another visit was made to the Roman cemetery under excavation at Warbank, Keston (KAR Number 11 page 10).
The second part of the course lasted for a period of nine weeks. This entailed practical work on the Roman villa site in Lower Warbank Field, south of the cemetery area. The work was directed by Mr B J Philp who was assisted by three site supervisors. The students began by laying out the grid for the site and were given instruction in actual excavation methods and use of tools. The students also established a work centre on the site by converting a large wooden shed given by the farmer. A new floor was laid and tile roof repaired to provide shelter in extreme weather and a place in which to undertake the initial processing of the finds. In addition two courses of instruction with the KARGC proton magnetometer were given by Mr M A Ocock and Mr D T Jackson.
An extensive series of trenches was then opened up in a previously unexplored area, based on an overall 10 foot grid. At the north end of the site natural chalk was encountered at a shallow depth for more than 100 feet. The centre of the site revealed gullies, pits and a flint structure of Roman date. In the primary filling of one large storage pit, 3 feet wide and 8 feet deep, were the skulls of two young goats and the skeleton of a small dog. Above these were three largely complete pots of late first century date. One was a substantial storage jar of Patch Grove type; another was a large bead rim cooking pot and the third a smaller burnished jar. The upper filling of the pit contained quantities of domestic rubbish including good quality Samian and fine vessel glass, also dating from the first century AD. About 50 feet south of this pit the excavation revealed two iron collars, 7 feet apart, which originally belonged to a wooden water main laid across the area in Roman times. The collars formed the joints between lengths of pipes though the exact course of this water main remains to be established.
At the south end of the site a substantial masonry building has been located (Plate 1). So far only 40 feet of an external wall and three internal walls have been uncovered, but much more work will be required to reveal the complete plan. Pottery and coins associated with the building suggest that it was occupied during the third and fourth centuries AD. Box-flue tiles, painted wall plaster, opus signinum and tesserae have also been recovered from the building. The exact plan of neither building is yet known, but it is possible that one of these was partially exposed during the 19th century.
Of the 92 students who started the course in January more than 80 successfully completed the full six months and of these 66 have been awarded certificates. The work is to continue during the later part of 1968. One more site supervisor and six new assistants have been appointed. The diggers are continually amused by the antics of farm animals who share the same field. These include an aged horse, two stubborn donkeys (known as Frank and Peter) and a tame magpie who pecks the diggers and makes off with some of the finds. The continued interest and support of Mr W A Lockley Cook is gratefully acknowledged.
COPYRIGHT RESERVED. THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE WINTER 1968 (ISSUE #14) EDITION OF THE KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW. PERMISSION SHOULD BE SOUGHT (IN WRITING) TO REPRODUCE OR QUOTE FROM ARTICLES IN THE K A R. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OPINIONS AND STATEMENTS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS TO THE K A R.