shorne woods country park

Randall Manor Season 10, Shorne Woods Country Park, Kent

Randall Manor, SE corner of platform, eastern annex building

Randall Manor, SE corner of platform, eastern annex building

Randall Manor Team photo 2015

Randall Manor Team photo 2015

I wasn’t sure last year, when writing a post for Day of Archaeology 2014, that there would be a Randall Manor season 10. We had come to the end of our Lottery funded project work and had support from Kent County Council to complete the ninth season (which finally wrapped up in November 2014, after many happy extra volunteer week day hours)…At the start of this year, conversations amongst the incredible archaeology volunteer team I work with inevitably turned to enquiries about a Season 10. As we lacked funds, we decided to keep it short and sweet and limited to an 8-day season (with likely post dig volunteer days to follow 🙂 ). A plan was devised (and debated!) to keep to two excavation areas, with clear aims:

A.) An old area to the south of our aisled hall building (dated to the second half of the thirteenth century), was to be revisited and a possible second garderobe structure investigated (we have previously investigated a very nice chalk lined garderobe pit in the service wing of our main building complex, complete with sloped flint cobble floor and stone lined opening/access). We also wanted to test a theory that at the back of the aisled hall there may be clay ramps, revetted with stone, acting as access to the building complex during its demolition.

B.) The second area of investigation in 2015 was the SE corner of the Manor platform, where we wanted to investigate both the north wall and eastern annex to a building first uncovered last year…

Season 10

The Day of Archaeology sees us on Day 6 of this short tenth season. Despite the deluge today, we are on course to meet the objectives of our dig this year. We now think that the possible garderobe structure was supported by two large wooden posts. As we seem to be below any surviving ‘use’ levels, we cannot be categorical about our interpretation and it is possible that the surviving structure could also be the base of a stairwell, accessing the back of the aisled hall. We do have a well defined north-south running drainage gully running along the west side of the aisled hall, kept in use until the buildings are demolished, perhaps 300 years later…In our second area we have found and exposed the north wall of the building and the eastern annex, which appears to be stone and chalk built, with its own entrance passage…

As the rain continues to pour outside, it only remains for me to pay tribute to the continuing enthusiasm, passion and sense of fun of the archaeology volunteers I work with. They make even the most mundane tasks such as grid setting out a pleasure. On a day like today, we still had 12 people turn up, desperate to take part and once driven in by the rain, everyone mucked in with getting kit stowed away, finds processed and paperwork completed.

Even if there is no season 11 (and who knows there might be!!), whatever project we move on to next, I know that the volunteers will make it just as engaging and fulfilling as the Manor has been.


More info as ever at:

Greetings from Randall Manor Year 9!

Hello from a wet, muddy, but happy corner of medieval Kent! We have been on site for 5 days now, as our 9th year on site at Randall Manor gets underway. It all started with scorching sunshine and new walls!


Day one RMS14

As the week progressed everyone has worked so hard in the new trenches for this year. Area 15 focused on walls we had found in 2011 and after a week of hard graft by all, we have uncovered the flint footings to a new building, east of the aisled hall discovered in 2011…


Pauline and Daniel working hard to uncover the join between buildings on site…RMS14…

We are also spending a 9th year examining the complex stratigraphy of the detached kitchen building. The archaeology has been well preserved under a layer of demolition and samples taken from the floor surfaces have already revealed substantial information on the medieval diet of the site’s occupiers, including lots of lovely fish bone.


A section through the kitchen floors…RMS14

After 5 days, what has struck me the most is the overwhelming enthusiasm from both young and old and the love of archaeology shared by all on site.

We have hosted 4 schools this week: Danecourt Special Needs, Valley Park in Maidstone, Manor Community from Swanscombe and Shorne Primary. Special mention must be made to Trevor for all his assistance and supervision of the schools on site and to Richard and Bernice for giving the children an introduction to archaeology and finds handling sessions.

Even today, with drizzle and rain making eventful appearances all day, over 20 volunteers turned up and got stuck in.


Our new trench, day 5, RMS14

We have enjoyed 9 years of Lottery funding for archaeology projects in the Park, but with the current project coming to a close, Kent County Council stepped in this year to fund the dig, so a big thank you to them!

Most importantly though I would like to pay tribute to all the volunteers who have supported the dig over the years, from the dig tasters, day diggers, new enthusiasts, to the band of highly skilled veterans from archaeology groups across Kent, who come back year after year and make the dig the success it is. They make new diggers feel welcome, are always on hand with helpful advice or a trusty spade, give up their time to show the public around the site and make the wider archaeology project in Shorne Woods Country Park such a joy to be a part of.

They find my trowel when I lose it, recover my wedding ring when I drop it, ferry equipment to and from site and enthuse people of all ages who come to the dig…

So on this Day of Archaeology I salute all volunteers who make archaeology projects across the country such a success and to those who volunteer behind the scenes at the Day of Archaeology itself!

We are a quarter of the way through this year’s season, on site every day to the 27th of July. On the 26th and 27th of July we have the Woodville Household medieval re-enactors in the Park, all part of the Festival of Archaeology…

For more information do have a look at or @ArchaeologyKent

We hope to have a new landscape archaeology project up and running for next year’s day of archaeology, looking at the landscape around Cobham village, so do watch this space 🙂