www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent

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.

Andrew.

More info as ever at: www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent

Randall Manor Calling! An update from our Community Archaeology Excavation in Kent, 2013

Randall Manor, Kent, 2013

Randall Manor, Kent, 2013

Not so much a day of archaeology, as a short review of a month of community archaeology at Shorne Woods Country Park, Kent! This was our eighth year of excavations on the site, making it the longest running community excavation of one site in the County! I planned things carefully this year so that we would dig through a heatwave! In total we worked for 27 days on the site, with over 20 people on site on most days, rising to over 40 on our busiest days! I’m very much a believer in Pat Reid’s description of community archaeology as being done by the people, for the people. Everyone on site is a volunteer, apart from me and my post is part funded by the National Lottery and partly by Kent County Council. All site supervision is undertaken by volunteers, as are responsibilities for finds, records, plans and sections…I just keep the juggernaut that is the Randall Manor dig rolling!

This year we wanted to answer some final questions about certain key areas of the site, before we backfill and also try to gain more evidence for the early use of the site, pre the buildings’ construction. We had four areas open, one at the south end of the site, one across the junction between our putative aisled hall and cross wing, one across the kitchen and we opened up a big new trench to the east of the kitchen.

Randall Manor, Kent

Randall Manor, Kent

Historically, our research suggests that there is a principal building on the site by the second half of the thirteenth century, with high status use of the site for around 100 years. After this the buildings are left to tenants before all occupation dramatically ends in the late sixteenth century, when the site is comprehensively demolished, perhaps as a source of stone for the construction of Cobham Hall.

Excavations this year have added to our growing understanding of the site. In the southern trench, it is now apparent that there was substantial attempt to expand the building platform to the south, burying a soil horizon in the process. Conversations with David and Barbara Martin (medieval building experts) also point to this end of the site forming the high end to the first high status building on site, complete with chimney and private garderobe?  All built over an early gully in which we have some good pottery evidence (to be analysed). There also seems to have been an attempt to create a revetted occupation area, outside the building.

In the trench over the aisled hall/cross wing join, we sunk a series of test pits that came up trumps with a ditch running under the buildings. This ditch had early thirteenth century pottery in its lowest fills…

The kitchen continues to provide fascinating evidence for the remodelling and phasing of the site. We now have a hearth and possible bread oven that lie under the later kitchen walls. This is in addition to a sequence of two tiled hearths and a stone hearth, all replacing each other and a series of patched and replaced kitchen floor surfaces….it will all take further teasing out!

Finally our new trench for this year! We suspected we might have another building, but have actually encountered a series of levelling layers, a trackway and occupation surfaces. Bags and bags of pottery from these and 3 lovely whetstones…

Just to add to the mix we also had a very nice Roman coin from one of the tile demolition layers and a pendant that needs conservation and cleaning work.

A really successful season with all credit going to the incredible amount of hard work put into the project by the many volunteers involved, both existing and new for this year.  5 schools dug with us, 2 on repeat visits through the dig; we also had a local Scout troop and 3 YAC groups digging on site. We organised and ran a weekend for visually impaired volunteers, in conjunction with the Kent Association for the Blind. Over 1,000 visitors had a guided tour of the site.

And….over our last weekend we had medieval re-enactors in the Park!

Lots of pictures at http://www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent. Contact andrew.mayfield@kent.gov.uk for further info!

Possible Bread Oven

Possible Bread Oven

Knighting at Shorne Woods with the Woodvilles

Knighting at Shorne Woods with the Woodvilles 


A Day (Today) in the Life of a Community Archaeologist in Kent

So today I have mostly been…

  • writing a couple of articles for the dayofarch page-great job everyone it looks amazing!
  • deciding whether an archaeologyinkent twitter acount is a good idea…?
  • updating the www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent page
  • thinking about our medieval manor dig that starts next week!!
  • sorting out pre-dig visits for the schools involved!
  • recovering from yesterday! (when we took a brushcutter to the dig site to clear it!!)

What am I looking forward to?

  • Our summer dig starting next week!
  • the medieval re-enactors we will have on site on July 7th and 8th at Shorne Woods Country Park!
  • lots of exciting news finds and discoveries!

How did i get here?

After going to UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, I spent 3 happy years in the field working for different Units up and down and back and across the country. This lead to a job working on the HER (Historic Environment Record) for Kent and volunteering opportunities in local archaeology projects in Kent…this lead to community archaeology projects and I’ve been working as a community archaeologist for over 3 years now, about to embark on the 7th season of community archaeology fieldwork at Shorne Woods Country Park.

Why do I love my job?

No two days are the same-it sounds like a cliche, but one day I will be digging test pits for mesolithic flint, the next cutting undergrowth down from our medieval dig site and today I am writing about it all on here! I also work with a fantastic group of enthusiastic, knowledgable and incredibly hardworking volunteers.

I’ll be blogging from our summer dig at www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent

 

Shorne Woods Archaeology Project Update 2012

Greetings from Kent County Council’s Community Archaeologist!

Since last year’s #dayofarch we have secured funding from HLF for a new project at Shorne Woods in Kent!  Called Shorne HubCAP it aims to involve local people in the archaeology of their area and provide training opportunities for volunteers and local archaeology groups.

We are working on a number of sites, from the mesolithic to the medieval. This week we have been finishing a series of test pits on a mesolithic site where we may have an in-situ flint scatter with refitting flakes!

We are now pouring all our energies into preparing for a month of archaeology at Shorne Woods Country Park, working on our medieval manor site. We will have re-enactors on site on the 7th and 8th of July, with our community dig running from the 9th to the 29th of July. Do come visit!

We will be hosting local schools for the first week and a half, with the opportunity for the children to get involved and help us dig the site.

The whole project is indebted to the enthusiasm, knowledge and interest of the many volunteers who take part on a weekly basis. Last year we had 140 different people involved with the summer dig and over 1,000 visitors…

Lots of information and pictures on our facebook page www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent

Do get in touch to learn more and to get involved!

 

Shorne Woods Community Archaeology Project, Gravesend, Kent

Randall Manor Dig 2011

Greetings from Shorne Woods! From the 9th to the 31st of July, schools, volunteers, members of the public, local archaeology groups and societies worked on the excavations taking place at Randall Manor. The excavations form part of a wider community archaeology project to investigate the archaeology and history of the Shorne Woods Country Park. On the Day of Archaeology itself we were all hard at work trying to understand the latest in a long line of questions prompted by our excavations. How do the different building phases relate to each other? How many times was the kitchen rebuilt? Do we have a bakehouse, a brewery or even a smokehouse structure in the north east corner of the site? We have been running a daily blog about the dig on our facebook site www.facebook.com/archaeologyinkent and also have a page at www.kent.gov.uk/randallmanor

One of our youngest aspiring photographers on site has also taken a series of shots to reflect a Day in the Life of the Randall Manor Dig and I will be posting these on facebook shortly…

The manor site was occupied from the 12th century through to the early 16th century, with our pottery assemblage and historical research in agreement over the main period of occupation. The manor was home to a branch of the de Cobham family, who lived at the site from c.1250-1360. We have what we believe to be a large timber hall, it’s northern end rebuilt in stone, with an additional building containing a garderobe then built onto the main building. Detached from it all is a kitchen building with successive tile and then stone hearths.

Elsewhere within the Park we have a large scatter of mesolithic waste flakes, an RAF and Army Camp and the remains of a twentieth century clayworks. LiDAR has revealed an extensive collection of earthworks relating to all periods of the Park’s past, that we still need to groundtruth!

School group on site during the 2011 season