village dig

The Big Village Dig in Cobham, Kent, July 2017

I’ve always enjoyed posting about my summer activities through the Day of Archaeology….thanks for the opportunity to reach new audiences and tell them about interesting and exciting community archaeology projects in Kent.

A quick update on the Heritage Lottery funded Cobham Landscape Detectives Project. Following on from the Mausoleum Cottage Dig last summer (see 2016 post), we decided to organise a village dig for the second year of the project. We held an open meeting for residents in the Spring and were invited to test pit in over 30 properties. We offered residents the opportunity to dig their own test pits, with advice and equipment, dig one with us or allow us to dig in their gardens. As I write we have now excavated 40 test pits and trenches across the village, including collaborating with the Primary School to get every class involved in a dig on their playing fields and the North Downs Young Archaeologists Club to dig in the back garden of the Darnley Arms.

Working with Cobham Primary School

Working with the North Downs Young Archaeologists Club

We have made a number of interesting and important archaeological discoveries in a village that has seen little previous archaeological investigation. These include:

  • A previously unknown 17th or 18th century agricultural building in the back garden of the Darnley Arms
  • The surviving traces (paths and drains) of a great House at the east end of the village, comprehensively demolished in the 1850s
  • The lost Victorian reservoir of Cobham (built in 1848)
  • Medieval soils limited to the south side of the village, near the medieval church and priests college
  • The industrial quarter of the village, at its eastern end
  • A geophysical survey that may dispel the long held stories of a megalithic structure at the west end of the village, though the survey does hint at buried archaeology in the field.

Working on the Victorian reservoir, photo courtesy of Brian Hughes

And the finds? Bags and bags and bags of china plate sherds, clay pipes, glass bottle fragments, coins, tokens, nails, hinges, tiles and brick – more than enough finds processing to keep us busy for months.

The project has brought the village together in a journey of archaeological discovery, we have made many new friends and been asked to consider running a second season in 2018!

None of this would have been possible without the hard work, passion, humour and commitment of the many volunteers who have helped organise and staff the project. They are the backbone of every Kent County Council community archaeology project and completely invaluable, not to mention expert at the digging of 1m square test pits! The Cobham Landscape Project continues through 2018 and more information can be found at ArchaeologyinKent on facebook, ArchaeologyKent on twitter and the shorne woods archaeology group web page. I leave you with a picture of our youngest volunteer Violet! Not yet 4, but a 3 season veteran, having dug at Randall Manor in 2015, the Cottage dig in 2016 and now the Village Dig…she has an expert eye for china plate!

 

Violet the champion China plate spotter. Photo courtesy of Rock