Archaeology South-East
Projects and Research

Highstead Farm Quarry, Chislet, Canterbury

Project type: Watching Brief, Excavation

Archaeology South-East were commissioned by Brett Aggregates Division to undertake a programme of archaeological investigation in advance of gravel extraction at Highstead Farm Quarry. The work was carried out in two broad phases between 2001-2002.

The initial fieldwork was in April 2001, and comprised a watching brief during topsoil stripping, mapping/planning and limited excavation. A total of 24 probably prehistoric features were revealed. An arrangement of four, probably Middle-Late Bronze Age, narrow curving ditches apparently enclosed and area measuring c. 70mx20m. Within the enclosure lay seven probable pyre deposits/cremations, two pits and four post-holes, together with a possible furnace and associated stoke hole. A further eight probably prehistoric features lay outside the ditches, comprising a Middle Bronze Age inurned cremation, two probable pyre deposits/cremations, four pits and a post-hole.

Subsequent stages of fieldwork comprising further watching briefs, mapping and excavations were carried out between May-October 2001. The work revealed remains dating from the Bronze Age to Post-Medieval. The earliest identified features dated to the Middle Bronze Age and included a pit within a possible ritual area or site of ploughed out barrow, partly enclosed by curving ditches. A possible settlement site and extensive cremation/pyre deposit cemetery dated to the Late Bronze Age. Some Early Iron Age possibly funerary activity was also identified. A small perhaps Roman field system was superimposed upon the prehistoric remains. A small 13th- to 14th-century farmstead, consisting of a series of enclosures and associated features, was located on the eastern edge of the site. A single, probably post-Medieval, field boundary ditch was also identified.

Between September-October 2002, a further watching brief identified extensive prehistoric remains dating from the Middle Bronze Age to Late Iron Age, together with an area of possible Medieval settlement and a Post-medieval ditch. A large quantity of fire-cracked flint beside a channel perhaps represented the site of a Bronze Age ‘burnt mound'. At least three prehistoric trackways were identified, including a possible droveway, together with two discrete groups of pits and post-holes. An area of Medieval possible settlement was revealed, consisting of predominantly 11th- to 12th-century ditches, pits and post-holes. A single post-medieval field boundary ditch was also identified.



Project Officer:
Greg Priestley-Bell
Client: Bretts
Project type: Watching Brief, Excavation



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