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Kentish Sites and Sites of Kent

Unfamiliar with the quaint customs of the south-east, when I first read the title of this monograph I assumed it had been written for the demented. Discrete enquiries subsequently revealed it’s actually based on the local saying that if you’re born to the east of the river Medway you’re a ‘Kentish Man,’ and west of the river you’re a ‘Man of Kent.’

Hence, one of the four sites covered by this volume lies to the east of the Medway, and the other three… well, you get the idea. So is this just a clever title in search of a book, or is there anything more substantial to this seemingly random collection of sites other than their geographical connection?

They were all excavated by Wessex Archaeolgy, one of the largest archaeology companies in the UK, and their disparate nature gives an excelent insight into both the type and standard of work undertaken in the commercial sector. There are two linear schemes here (the Weatherlees-Margate-Broadstairs gas pipeline and the West Malling Bypass) as well as a large housing development (Fulston Manor) and supermarket development (Manston Road, Ramsgate). Over the couse of these excavations it became clear that a new type of sunken feature building was emerging that seemed to be particular to Kent. Dating to the medieval period, these buildings combine uses as bakeries, breweries and/or kitchens. This is what motivated the publication, and these different sites are drawn together further with a sythesis chapter analysing this new type of sunken feature building.

‘Publish or perish,’ is a stick that archaeologists use to batter each other into writing more, and no one takes as much stick as commercial archaeology. Wessex Archaeology have bucked the trend here, identifying a distinct pattern in the material evidence and researching it’s implications. They have produced a useful regional study, and the drive to publish these results has to be applauded.

The perishers meanwhile, live to dig another day.

Kentish Sites… A miscellany of four archaeological sites, by Phil Andrews, Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, Chris Ellis, Andrew Hutcheson, Christopher Philpotts, Andrew B. Powell and Jörn Schuster

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