West Kent Border Archaeological Group
The first ten miles of the pipe-line running eastwards from the Surrey border have now been completed. The whole of this distance was kept under close observation and again a series of new sites was discovered. Generally these were found in what might otherwise have been considered the least likely places.
The contractors bull-dozed the topsoil off a strip of ground some 40 feet in width and then welded the pipe into long lengths. A trench was then dug, some five feet deep and four feet wide, by a Cleveland excavator fitted with a large wheel containing shallow buckets for the digging. The upcast was dumped on one side of the trench by a conveyor-belt fitted to the machine. Almost immediately the actual gaspipe would be lowered into the trench and buried, often the actual digging-laying-backfilling process being completed in 24 or 48 hours. Inspection during both topsoiling and trenching operations was essential as the former revealed features in plan and the latter features in section. Sometimes it was even possible to cut-back the sides of the trench to allow controlled excavation and section-recording.
The contractors for this section, William Press Ltd, must be congratulated for their kind co-operation, interest and good humour and the SEGB thanked for kindly supplying detailed maps of the route. The Group also gratefully acknowledges the help of the Westerham and Limpsfield Group during the course of the work.
Site 1. Botley Hill. NGR 5393 1562. Neolithic-Bronze Age. Clay with Flints. OD 850 feet. Light scatter of flint flakes and one scraper. Possibly a temporary occupation-site close to the North Downs Ridgway.
Site 2. Tatsfield Wireless Station. NGR 5406 1561. Iron Age? Clay with Flints. OD 820 feet. Small ditch, gullies and small pits containing several coarse, black potsherds probably of Iron Age date. Perhaps a site of small farmstead adjacent to North Downs Ridgway.
Site 3. Tatsfield Firs. NGR 5408 1561. Romano-British, 1st century. Clay with Flints. OD 820 feet. Three cremation-burials all damaged. Three coarseware cinerary urns containing cremated bones and also two small flagons. In one group the flagon had been sliced exactly down the centre by the machine leaving a half in the side of the trench, but smashing the cinerary-urm into more than 100 pieces. These groups form part of a small cemetery attached to a small farmstead or very minor road-settlement on the London-Lewes arterial road.
Site 4. Clarkslane Shaw. NGR 5409 1562. a.Roman Road. Clay with Flints. OD 800 feet. The known position of the London-Lewes road the agger of which is clearly visible. Metalling at least five inches thick consisting of small pebbles probably from the Woolwich Beds. No trace of side ditches. b.Iron Age? The Roman road completely sealed a small ditch which contained sherds of coarse, black pottery possibly of Iron Age date. The ditch was probably a boundary ditch relating to a farmstead site.
Site 5. Hogtrough Hill. NGR 5455 1561. Iron Age ? Middle Chalk. OD 420 feet. A large ditch 12-15 feet in width and deeper than six feet. Also a small ditch seven feet wide and four feet deep. Small sherds of coarse pottery of Iron Age and early Romano-British date from the fillings of these ditches. Very probably another farmstead site, perhaps of Iron Age date situated within three miles of the Iron Age hillfort at Squerryes. It is hoped to do further work on this site.
Site 6. Coomebank. NGR 5474 1565. Medieval. Gault Clay. OD 380 feet. A light scatter of about 60 potsherds covering 100 feet and associated with a mass of flints. One iron knife was found unstratified . The pottery seems to be that from the Limpsfield kilns (five miles) probably dating from 13th or 14th centuries. Another occupation-site seems to be indicated.
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