Published: 05:00, 19 June 2022
| Updated: 16:37, 20 June 2022
An ancient whistle carved from bone has been unearthed at a building site on land thought to have been occupied by families hundreds of years ago.
Archaeologists made the discovery at Hillborough on the outskirts of Herne Bay, ahead of work starting on Taylor Wimpey’s 900-home development on the plot later this year.
The oldest items dug up from the field are believed to date back to the latter stages of the Bronze Age, which ended in 1200 BC.
And lead archaeologist Richard Greatorex says the presence of a medieval whistle suggests people in 1000 AD may have lived on the plot, which was most recently used for farming.
“It was made out of animal bone, the type of bone we don’t know yet,” he said.
“That shows that on the site it was found, we probably had a mixture of agricultural and domestic activities taking place there.
“These discoveries are locally and regionally important because the discoveries tell us more about the settlements on the north Kent coast.
“Some of these objects – which includes hundreds of pottery shards – were found a metre deep, others are only 30cm or 40cm down.”
Of the items they have so far found, the oldest date back to the Bronze Age, and provide signs of farming activity.
Iron Age grain stores have also been found. These would have been raised from the ground to stop their contents from being pilfered by rats and mice.
The archaeologists believe they may have discovered farming enclosures spanning all three periods, with some containing pits, livestock shelters and corn dryers.
“There’s some domestic activity alongside this agricultural activity in the medieval ones, so it could well be that people lived or worked there,” Mr Greatorex added.
“Because there’s Bronze Age activity, Iron Age activity and medieval activity, we can see the landscape has been used for a long period of time.
“You get these in north Kent and Thanet, and very often they may be brewing stuff, drying cereal crops and making bread.
“This whole Taylor Wimpey development is slated to be done over the next few years, so I’m sure we’ll find out a lot more.”
The development is one of three planned for Hillborough, a sweeping plot of land south of Beltinge village.
AE Estates is still waiting for Canterbury City Council to decide whether to green light its 350-home scheme to the west of the site.
National firm Kitewood, meanwhile, was given the go-ahead to begin work on its 180-home complex behind Osborn Gardens last year.
And Taylor Wimpey, which had its project approved by Housing Secretary Michael Gove in November, does not expect the archaeological finds to slow down their progress.
A spokesman for the company said: “In line with the requirements of the planning permission, an archaeological investigation is being carried out before construction work begins.
“We would like to assure the community that all findings are being carefully recorded.
“At present, and as agreed with Kent County Council, we anticipate that we will start initial groundworks on site this month."