Two Bronze Age gold bracelets almost 3,000 years old have been discovered during excavations along the route of the East Kent Access Road. When they were found one bracelet was placed inside the other.
The bracelets were found in an area of the Ebbsfleet peninsula from which four other Late Bronze Age hoards are already known... continues...
I have spent the last few months battering away at the local Heritage departments in an attempt to improve the knowledge and awareness of the locals and to do something about the pretty sad state of the monuments around the Medway... continues...
Archaeologists are planning to build a copy of an ancient boat found in Dover and sail it from Britain to France. The original was found by chance in 1992 in a water filled shaft during roadworks in the town. It was one of the best preserved examples of a coastal vessel from the Bronze age ever found... continues...
In response to Rhiannon's Battle Street conundrum, I drove past there today and made a short detour. Just before the end of the lane, on the right, is a modernish housing development...called Sarsen Close, would you believe...in the drive of one house were 3 stones, and more in the gardens of the other houses in the close. One must have been 12' x 6' x 1' thick, laying flat and used as a planter of all things, a real shame because it was a stunning piece of stone...I didn't go into the field or down the path. not knowing really what to look for.
Also 1/4 mile away I found another stone, an absolute beauty, either heavily carved or bless with the most natural art ever.
Now I have some photos, but if I start posting pictures of sarsens everywhere it will mean chaos!
When first built, the Medway's long barrows had high rectangular chambers. These, their entrances finally blocked by a focal portal stone, and with a facade, were at the eastern end of considerable, in surviving instances more than 60m in length, long barrows. Flanked by quarry ditches or scoops, they were retained by sarsen stone kerbs, the surviving boulders being mostly of modest size.
On the eastern side of the Medway there is the Lower Kit's Coty House, where, when scrutinized from the east, it can be seen that the chamber's side stones have fallen to the north. Were they, as were those of Chestnuts, merely pulled back into a vertical position, there would be a chamber almost 7m long and 3.5m wide, with an astonishing internal height, at least at the entrance, of almost 2.8m. At Chestnuts this procedure showed that its stones demarcated a chamber 4m long, 2m wide and 3m high. The Coffin Stone's chamber could have been at least 3.5m high.
Such chamber heights are exceptional, and thus the Medway's megalithic long barrows were undiputedly a unique group of the largest and most grandiose of their kind.
Something else to throw into the Medway mix. I'd not heard of these pits before, perhaps they're not prehistoric at all, but their proximity to Kit's Coty and the rest is interesting, and they are to do with flint..
At several places in this part of Kent, especially on and near the high ridge which runs to the westward, there have been observed deep pits, evidently of a very remote antiquity. They consist of a large circular shaft, descending like a well, and opening at the bottom into one or more chambers..
On Friday, the 23rd of August, 1844, having obtained permission to excavate in the estate belonging to Preston Hall, which extends over the top of this hill, I took some labourers with me.. to examine the ground behind Kits Coty House.. I proceeded further on the top of the hill into what I knew to be the Preston Hall property, and on the ground just within the limits of Aylesford common I found single stones, closely resembling those of which the cromlechs below are built, but lying flat on the ground.
My first impression was that they were the capstones of cromlechs, or sepulchral chambers, buried under theground, and, having singled out one of them, I set the men to dig under the side of it. When they got under the edge they found thye were digging among a mass of flints, which had evidently been placed there by design; I then caused the men to continue the excavation to a greater distance round, and, to my surprise, I found that this immense stone was laid over the mouth of a large circular pit which had first been filled up to the top with flints. To proceed any further without a greater number of men than I had with me would have been useless.
But, just as I was leaving it, some of the cottagers on the top of the hill - squatters - informed me that these pits were frequently found on that hill, and that they generally had one or two of the large stones at the mouth. When, a few years before, a new road was made over the brow of the hill, and flints were sought for that purpose, the labourers discovered these pits and partly emptied some of them, which they found much more profitable than seeking the flints on the surface of the chalk. One was shown to me which had been emptied to a depth of about ten feet, and had been discontinued on account of the labour of throwing the flints up.
p565 in The Gentleman's Magazine for 1852, in an article on 'The Valley of Maidstone - Kits Coty House and the Cromlechs around' by Thomas Wright.
Right out of the Medway valley area we have hints of another megalithic structure, near the village of Cobham, some five miles west of Rochester. Here in an orchard off Battle Street remains today one sarsen, but we know that a group of great stones once existed here because Payne gives extracts from the diary of the farmer who carted them away in 1770-3, while others were removed in 1842 to make a rockery at Cobham Hall. Lucas reported in 1854 on the probability of a megalith once existing here, and states that a native told him that Battle Street led to 'The Warrior's Grave'.
...The supposed Cobham megalith was also associated with a battle. Lucas visited this district in 1854, twelve years after the last of the stones had been removed, and eighty years after its destruction, but he reports that it was known locally as 'The Warrior's Grave', and this name was coupled with that of the lane which led towards the monument, which was called Battle Street. This name still endures and is certainly of some antiquity, for we have a record of it as such in 1471. There is no historical record of a battle being fought thereabouts.
George Payne, Collectanea Cantiana 1893, p153.
W C Lucas, Journ. Arch. Asscn., 1854, vol ix, p427.
This comes from p38 and p42 of 'Notes on the Folklore and Legends Associated with the Kentish Megaliths, by John H. Evans, in Folklore, Vol. 57, No. 1. (Mar., 1946).
Cobham is at TQ6768, and 'Battle Street' is marked on the 1:25,000 OS map. Does the stone exist or not? The author's obviously confused! Perhaps someone local knows.
In April, 1895, Mr. Albany F. Major (hon. sec. Viking Club) and myself went on a visit to Kits Coity House above Aylesford, Kent. At the foot of Blue Bell Hill on the way to Kits Coity there are a number of sarsens in a field. On inquiring of a rustic as to their whereabouts, in directing us to them he informed us that a baker had made a bet he would count them and placed a loaf upon each stone in order to count them correctly. [...]
R. Ashington Bullen.
From Nature v65 (1901). "Rustic." It reminds you of the recent "pleb" remark does it not, pretty casual disdain?
Who'd have thought it, eh? My mum used to stay at nearby Tudeley 'hop picking' when she was a kid.... loved it to bits, no doubt passing some of that passion for the British countryside onto yours truly. I've also a fondness for the hop, but guess we'll leave that out of this. I've been to (equally nearby) Tonbridge a few times, too, the town dominated by the de Clare motte and bailey castle, the great gatehouse of which is cited as being inspiration for those of that other - incomparable - de Clare fortress of Caerphilly, South Wales. Yeah, but what sorcery is this? Another 'Castle Hill' rising above the A21 just outside of town bearing witness - according to the deliberations of excavations carried out in 1969, 1970 and 1971 (see Pastscape, English Heritage, National Monuments Record TQ64SW1) - to human activity ranging all the way back to the Mesolithic, with Neolithic and Bronze Age finds to bring us to the days of Iron. Hey, Castle Hill has quite literally seen it all. However it is the latter epoch which has left by far the most substantial trace, albeit in the form of a paradoxical combination of earth and Kentish chalk. Iron, indeed. As for the Norman barbarians.... Ha! Only yesterday...
For some reason I had a bit of a pre-trip 'downer' this morning. It happens. Guess I anticipated access issues, what with a brace of antennae crowning the hill top. Probably just a few lumps and bumps to see anyway. Not really worth going? I nevertheless find myself parking at the entrance to 'The Brakes' and ascending a track (gated to vehicles, but not pedestrians) through trees to arrive at the aforementioned towering antennae. Veer left here into the trees and some pretty substantial ramparts are not long in coming. This northerly section appears bi-vallate, if overgrown. Nice. The cooling fans of the nearby installation kick into life and I prepare to be annoyed. But I'm not. Not with the sunlight slanting through the foliage, the whole woodland vibe making me very glad I came. Heading east, the banks are overwhelmed in soaking knee high fern for a while before standing proud and defiant once again... only to peter out (presumably destroyed) at Castle Hill farm. The owners of said establishment want you to 'keep out'. Strictly. However the notices are superfluous since shotgun reports are audible nearby. I've no desire to meet such people, let alone dance to their tune.
Retracing my steps and heading beyond the antennae, a sunken track gives access to more substantial defences in the form of a 'bastion-like', well, bastion to the approx south-west... all shimmering highlight and shadow, the perfect environment for fungi, the archetypal ethereal vibe. I can handle that. OK, the earthworks lose focus once again as I approach the farm from the other direction, but clearly there is much more to Castle Hill hillfort than I ever supposed. Or rather 'hillforts', the excavators having concluded that a later enclosure superseded an original earthwork apparently intentionally destroyed at some point. Before which, or so it would appear, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples had either lost, discarded or deposited their artefacts. The continuity, the sheer breath of human experience boggles the mind. Really, it does.
Some three hours have now elapsed upon this obscure hilltop. So I must leave to - unwittingly - take almost 45 minutes to move a couple of miles because of roadworks on the A21. Such is life. Yeah... life. The word sort of sums up Castle Hill, does it not? I think so.