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Archaeological dig begins on the Lees Court Estate, Badlesmere

By Katie Davis

Kent Archaeological Society (KAS) has embarked on a month long investigation into a prehistoric multi-period ritual landscape.

The large-scale dig on the Lees Court Estate began this month.

It follows the recent discovery of a possible mid-Neolithic causewayed enclosure there during a recent evaluation excavation at Stringmans Field.

Aerial view of the monument. (3948000)
Aerial view of the monument. (3948000)

This significant feature had previously been identified through aerial images and geophysical survey data.

The subsequent excavation revealed a structure around 25 metres in diameter surrounded by a large, deep ditch.

Evaluation slots cut into the ditch fill showed layered pottery and stone, the earliest of which dates from the mid-Neolithic period (C.3300 - 2900 BC)

The discovery of the feature is the most recent of a number of exciting finds which have come to light since KAS and the Lees Court Estate began a joint 15-year project in 2017 to archaeologically evaluate the 6,900 acre estate.

Las year no less than five Bronze Age hoards were discovered in close proximity to an unexcavated Bronze Age barrow mound and the mid-Neolithic enclosure - an unheard of amount in such a localised area.

They were found by the Medway history finders detecting club, with KAS carrying out the rescue excavations and recording of the hoards.

They are now being examined by the British Musuem.

Dr Neil Wilkin, Bronze Age curator at the museum, said: “It is fascinating that so many large later Bronze Age hoards have been found in close proximity to one another in Lees Court Estate.

“The hoards are unusual in how they were deposited in the ground and the presence of hundreds of flattish, irregular scrap pieces of bronze.

“One hoard alone contained 16kg worth of bronze.

“This is very unusual for Kent and raises many questions about their function and role within the Bronze Age metalworking and recycling process.

“Kent appears to have been a distinctive region with its own traditions of metalworking and hoarding during the last centuries of the Bronze Age.”

All of these finds, in such close proximity, point to a multi-period prehistoric landscape atop the North Downs overlooking Faversham Creek.

One interpretation could be that a prehistoric community used the area as a designated space for gathering people, the treatment of the dead or a point where technological and cultural exchange took place between the continent and the islands of Britain over many thousands of years.

KAS is keen to encourage volunteers to sign up to join the excavations - including beginners.

Email membership@kentarchaeology.org.

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