Four trustees and a Magnetometer

A fantastic days instruction on setting out a grid and performing a mag survey!

Many thanks to Andrew Mayfield @ArchaeologyKent for coming out to conduct two days training (the second being tomorrow) for the societies trustees. This will open up a whole new avenue of investigation that the society intends to perform across the whole peninsular, exciting times!!

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent, Day 15

It's been a really relaxed day onsite today, on the village green. Its been all about excavating the final sections with lots of  "interpretation" and recording. I apologize at the start for the shortness/late time of the blog. With the dig drawing to a close, its time to reflect on some of the finds and today in review I realized, there quite a lot of other finds we haven't reported, like for example the amount of domestic evidence we have found in abundance. The finds include Oyster shell with various other shell fish, various animal bone and teeth, Roman and Medieval tile, bone buttons and beads, a whole array of building materials. Especially noteable are different types of faced and worked flint with a large amounts of fire crack flint/pot boilers, indicating a heavy amount of flint working and use around the site.

Below are some pictures of the trench as it was today. The plan tomorrow is to continue excavations in the lower end, due to the fact its is still producing finds in some areas and there are a few questions remaining in this section.  

Its been another great day onsite with the whole group really putting in a big shift. Phil, Sam and Bill are pictured above taking a well deserve rest. Again Charley one of our young archaeologist was on site before me kit in hand who along with Tom put us adults to shame today.... I just want to say thank you to the whole team for everything they have done in the past 2 weeks, we have a great looking trench and we have gained lots of info about the past and above all lots of experience for the future..  

Although the dig officially finishes tomorrow, we will be keeping the trench open for 1 more week, before back filling to continue the lower sections when time allows around work commitments.   

We are on site tomorrow 10am/5pm, your welcome to come and have a chat and see how things are progressing!!

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent, Day 13/14

Apologies for the lack of blog yesterday, it has been so frantic on site trying to excavate and record such a large trench with only a few days remaining.... Falling asleep when I got home didn't help :p... Its been really positive within the group today as they realize what a great job they have done in just a few weeks. The trench looks amazing if you appreciate a good trench! I want to thank Gerald from Kent Archaeological society on behalf of the group, for popping in yesterday to help with some great advice, we really appreciate the support of K.A.S.

Onsite today we also received some amazing help from WESSEX archaeology who have already provided the group with training sessions. This time they sent Lisa and Mark (senior field archaeologist) with the gps kit to help us plot and grid the entire Buttway field, we can now place trenches within 5mm for all our future digs.  They stayed onsite to provided advice and support for most of the day and honestly, I have never met 2 more down to earth and experienced professionals. I know I speak for the whole team, old and young when I say thank you to the WESSEX team for helping us make this project a success.  Its great to see this kind of relationship in community archaeology.

The dig itself has produced so much information about our village green, also helping prove the research in terms of the Medieval town of Cliffe. We have now finally begun to see a true picture of what the Resistivity Survey was showing us in terms of archaeology . The high resistivity area shown on the survey is the natural bedrock. It was difficult to interpret because we have overlying building demolition (cuts/fills) in the trench. E.G Chalk/lime mortar, squared chalk blocks. rag stone, face flint.. A very good example of this is in the north section pictured below. 

Although we have established the high resistivity square area is natural, but it doesn't negate the fact the area itself wasn't terraced as a building platform.. This is the only question that remains to be answered here in this area. Over half the trench is now recorded and cleaned, we now have 3 active sections within the trench to finish including an interest ditch in the natural.

The north end by the wall is almost down to the natural bedrock but is still producing finds even in the deepest layers. We were slightly disappointed we didn't find a clear wall lines, but we still know there's a building here... I am sure with magnetometer survey, things will be clearer on how to progress in terms of future digs. The fact we have building features (see below from previous test pits) and natural features interacting, showing on our resitivity survey and now proven in the trench doesn't help!!...

We can see this is a long term project (at least 6 years) and this dig has been fantastic start in terms of finds, I estimate about 30 kilos of finds to clean and process. The finds really have been the star of the show in the past 2 weeks. We have now been digging in Cliffe Parish for 3 years and in all the previous digs, I have never seen the amount and types we were recovering per square meter on the Buttway.

During the dig we have uncovered over 2000 years of local history with Samian ware, shelly ware and basically a local reference collection throughout the medieval period. This I know from what I have seen and has already been I.D, but we have bags and bags still uncleaned, it will take months to process... I will summarize in more detail tomorrow with some more detail on finds and some of the questions we have answered during the dig.

On a more historical research note on Cliffe itself, if you have read this blog and realize we are finding mostly medieval pottery... Its references like this that also help tell the story of the area during this period, added to the fact Cliffe was so important to the Metropolitan church. Now we are finding evidence... 

January 3rd 1326.

Commission to William de Grey and John de Shelvyng to guard all
places along the coast of the Thames between Recolvre, Greyston and Whitstable and search in all places where ships put in, both those entering the realm and those leaving the realm, and to arrest all who are carrying letters prejudicial to the crown, and send such letters with all speed to the king: as he is informed that many persons, to evade the scrutiny of the persons appointed in the several ports for the capture of such letters, are frequently landed there in ships and boats. 
The like to the following in the following places:—

The ports and places in the ports of Gravesend and Clyve (Cliffe) and other places between those towns.

August 15th 1326.

Appointment of Maurice de Brune, Robert de Echynghani, John de Cobham and Roger de Bavent to survey the ships of over 50 tons in the towns and ports of Romenhale, Pevensie, Winchelsea, Rye, Hastings, Hithe, Dovre, Sandwiz, Faversham, Gillingham, Maydenstan, Strode, Clyve (Cliffe), Swannescampe, Grenewiz, Seford and Shorham, and to see that they join Nicholas Kiriel, admiral of the Western fleet at Portsmouth, and that all the lords and masters of the ships of less tonnage are kept in the said towns; and they are to arrest such as have not joined, both ships and men.

Source: King Edward II Patent rolls

The following days will be about finishing the sections within the trench and recording. Brian wins find of the day for some really nice shelly ware (12th century). I want to thank the local community for coming to visit the site, asking questions and showing support. We are on site tomorrow 9.30am/5pm.  

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent, Day 12

Twelve days of archaeological excavation on the village green, with a trench that measures 13mx3m. The logic being, the more of the features apparent on the resisivity survey we uncover in a larger area, technically should answer many questions we had about the site. Archaeological law 101 on the other hand dictates the the larger the area equals more questions.... Today has been really, really productive is terms of excavation and how we are are working together as a group. On day 12, I am truly scratching my head and thinking this trench is crazy with all the complex archaeology we are now seeing...

For example you see below a picture of the north end of the trench (nearest the church wall), overlaying with our resistivity survey. There should be really nice straight easy to deal with wall lines or at least that is how it appears....

Instead we are now looking at this today in the north section.... You have to love archaeology!! 

I can honestly say today I would give my right arm for a clearer edge/feature, all I can really say is all the flint features across the trench are faced and set into lime/chalk mortar although in the deeper section, we still have a lot of trowel work remaining and the archaeology appears to be more insitu. The North of the trench does look promising in terms of edges though,  when compared to the Demolition layer (so far) in the south end. Finds wise the trench continues not to disappoint, most notable today from the deeper context (above), we had a nice fragment of Samian ware (Bill wins prize find today) but then a few buckets later from the same context Medieval Green ware arrrrrrgggggg!!    

Chris and Brian have again been working the south end of the trench, with Bill, Corri and Andy working the North.  The older Kids Reece, Charlie and Daisy are doing really well on the middle section. Tula, lucy and Maisy along with everyone else helping with the sifting the spoil and sweeping the trench. The finds cleaning station has been extra busy to it all hands on deck... With just 4 days left, I guess its time to thinking about section or two.  Although its clearly a very complex site to deal with, we are having fun, the children especially and things are starting to take shape overall. Everyone has done a great job!!!

We are on site tomorrow from 10am/5pm if your in the area why not come and have a look at what we are doing?

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 11

Day 11 proved to be a very wet and muddy day and all the sunshine of the past week seems like a distant memory. I could see the members were keen to carry on, but by 1pm it was obvious we would be unable to continue as we couldn't even sift the spoil coming from the trench.. Still after lunch its was all systems go on the finds station. You have to love British summers!! 

For the few hours we could dig today there are really positive signs that the deeper archaeology at the North end of the trench is undisturbed and the troweling has become much easier. I am confident with the time we have left we will expose what appear on the rsistivity survey to be clearly defined walls and dateable finds are still present within the subsoil. At the South end of the trench the demolition raft is still being cleaned back, it is a very intricate and delicate process. Both Chris and Brian have been working diligently today with this section and I appreciate that this is difficult work.

Fortunately due to lack of info on site, I did say yesterday, I would tell you what exactly it is we are looking around the church and why. So now we go from information about the dig itself to a more general historical narrative of the history of the Hoo peninsular. In particular its important Medieval history long forgotten and little understood.  I apologize before hand if today's blog proves to be a long read, but I promise it will be worth it. So the story begins with a quote from an esteemed gentlemen called T Kerslake back in 1879.

Among the most famous names of places in England, during the long aggressive reigns of Ethelbald and Offa, when, for the largest part of the eighth century, the other kingdoms were more or less threatened with the supremacy of Mercia, was that of a place called Clovesho or Clovesham. Its celebrity has been, no doubt, much enhanced by its intimate connection with the Church History of that period; but it has shared, with many of the names of the localities of the most important events of the history of those times, in a great deal of uncertainty and controversy as to the actual place.

But this Clovesho had necessarily retained its hold upon the public memory of the ages from the eighth to the sixteenth centuries, from the importance to the Church of the great acts of councils, both royal and pontifical, there held and the memory or tradition of the National Church, was, of all others, the most vivid and tenacious of any, during that long period : perhaps the only one which may be said to have bridged it, unbroken by interruptions, such as dynastic revolutions. When the tradition of the actual whereabouts of this famous place comes first into our view, we find it attached to the "Hoo" of Kent above described, and to the place called "Cliffe" there situated.”

Utilizing information from the many archives, archaeological sites, aerial mapping, finds and the increasing amount of academic reports, local inhabitants, clubs, landowners and professionals, it has been possible to build a picture not just of the physical local landscape with regards to settlement and its people, but also how this small piece of Kent has evolved throughout the medieval period and how the Hoo peninsular also fits into the local, regional and national landscape. 

When compared with other known important sites in Kent (remembering Cliffe/Hoo is one of the main 8 old foundations of the metropolitan church in Kent) very little work has been undertaken with regards to the early historic landscape of the Hoo peninsular and its settlements. 

Much of what is currently known about Anglo Saxon Kent is drawn from the few surviving documents of the time such as the Saxon charters or Bede history of England. The corpus of Saxon charters consisted mainly of land grants, made by Kings to important persons usually within the church and provides a fundamental source material for our understanding Anglo-Saxon England, complementing the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other literary sources. This has provided many important insights into the economic and political structure of the early Anglo Saxon Church. None arguably more so than the formation of the early Christian church by St Augustine’s and the introduction of early law codes and practices, such as the first synodal church councils.

It is evident from the narrative, that these councils were mixed assemblies at which not only the bishops and abbots, but the kings of Mercia and the chief men of the kingdom were present. They had thus the character not only of a church synod, but of the Witenagemot or assembly fairly representative of the Church and realm. The affairs of the Church were decided by the bishops and presided over by the archbishop. While the king, presiding over his chiefs, gave to their decisions the co-operation and acceptance of the State. While it must be remembered that at this period the country was not yet united into one kingdom, as far as we may judge from their signatures, the synods represented the see of Canterbury and the whole English Church south of the Humber.

The Synod of Hertford began on 24 September 673 AD and can be regarded as the beginning of the Church of England as a structural entity. Theodore of Canterbury called a Synod of bishops and learned men of the Church. The Synod included all the Bishops, except Wilfrid of Northumbria who sent representatives in his stead. At this stage, there was no political entity of England and so it can be fairly said, that the Church of England pre-dated the creation of the English nation by about 150 years. The Synod brought greater uniformity to the English churches and led to the consecration of more Bishops. In the decade following the Synod the number increased from 6 to 14. Although it should be remembered that Bishops then had a very different role, much more like a Rector or Incumbent of a large parish today with a roving ministry. Ten Canons were agreed largely to ensure greater co-operation. In furtherance of this, it was decreed “That a synod be held twice a year.” In view of various obstacles, however, it was unanimously agreed that we should meet once a year on the first of August at Clofeshoch. Although the acts of these important councils are not in question, the physical locations however have been the cause of much controversy and debate through the centuries. The first synod of Hertford gave rise to a series of councils in diverse locations. Generally considered to be in proximity to the Thames, London and Canterbury that spanned the Mercian domination of Kent for almost 200 years. This lead to what might be considered the first parliament in England that dealt with matters of administration, law, church and state. Of the diverse records and locations and acts, that survive for these councils, there is no doubt Clovesho was the primary and most important.

Clovesho/ Clofeshoch or as its actually written “Clofes Hoas” the literal translation meaning “Cliffs Hoo”. Cliffe at Hoo and the wider area, has long been argued by many as being the place so famous in the infancy of the English Church. Indeed pre reformation the most learn and respected men of Canterbury accept Cliffe as the location of the early synods of Church, seemingly as given fact. Added to that that, many other recorded council locations (almost all) would seem to be on the Hoo peninsular. The body of evidence is already strong. Although it cannot be accepted that Cliffe or Indeed the wider Hoo peninsular was the actual location, based upon name evidence alone and having been the subject to much debate. It is surprising to learn, that little actual research has been conducted with regards to the Churches and Saxon landscape of the peninsular, or even the vast amount of archive materials held by the church and other archives.

The area of the Hoo peninsular in particular is well documented within the Anglo-Saxon charters even from a time where such records are rare. It is clear that the land in this part of North West Kent was valuable to the early Saxon elites with no less than 22 charters each containing unique information regarding dates, place names, settlements, landownership, size.  The charters also give much information about the elites and society in the area. Later medieval records of the peninsular, reflect this value to the church in particular the parishes of St Werburg Hoo and Cliffe.

The Hoo Peninsula is situated in a commanding position on the North Kent coast, surrounded almost entirely by the historic Thames and Medway rivers. The peninsular itself consists of an extensive elevated chalk premonitory, enclosing clay and sand hills, fertile arable land mixed with woodland along it spine. The peninsular is surrounded by the broad alluvial expanse of the North Kent marshes. Previous investigations of early Saxon sites in the north east of the county, tell us the early jutish settlers favored the more fertile soils of the coastal plains and river valleys. The historic record of the peninsular proves that these early settlers were attracted to this resource rich peninsula.  Many past and more recent archaeological excavations show wholesale settlement by the Saxon was taking place from the very earliest period in the migration. The Hoo peninsular is perfectly suited for settlement, with the surrounding with rivers providing key transport and trade links directly opposite there continental homelands in Europe. The proximity of Rochester, Canterbury and London via Roman road Watling Street and the Roman crossing into Essex at the Thames. This places Cliffe and the Hoo peninsular in the very center of a politically turbulent and important period in British history.

This information only reflects one part of the our research as a whole, but I would argue, for a period of time the national focus would have been on this area and the acts of these early parliaments.  It begs the question, what sort of a building/church estate could house all the Kings and Bishops of England as well as there entourage once a year?? Given comparative studies on similar sites, the ecclesiastical foundation and medieval character of Cliffe, the buildings in question must be within the church monastic footprint (Cannon Law). That is what all the recent digs and years of surveys and study concerning this area in the village have been about. Essentially we are looking for evidence of the early Anglo-Saxon/later Collegiate Medieval monastic estate and I know we are very lucky to have an "interesting" site to explore as all the clues are well recorded.  Who knows whats under this village on the naturally defended mouth of the Thames, in the coming years we may have some answers...

If you want to know more about any of the local history, St Helens church or the dig itself we are onsite 10am/5pm...

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 10

Really fantastic day 10 on the Buttway field, not just in terms of finds or the dig itself as that's only part of the reason we give up so much time/money and effort. Some days in archaeology it can be really tough it not all about finding treasure, there is a lot of hard work involved in the digging, planning and the recording. But days like today make it all worth while as the main reason we work so hard is because of the local community. Its to give something back to the place where many of us including myself grew up.  

The last few days as you may have read have been really hard going, but as predicted we are starting to see the archaeology. The reason today has been so good is for one reason alone, our young archaeologists!!! Not finds, not lumps and bumps or contexts/levels, however important this site may turn out to be I personally wont ever forget today. The kids have worked so hard and they are so interested, they listen and are really having fun, all the while they are learning so many new skills (just dont tell them mums and dads). That in my opinion makes this whole dig worthwhile even if we back filled the trench tomorrow. 

Speaking of the trench itself and I am pleased to say it is still producing finds we can date. The South section with the chalk/lime mortar and flint faced feature that appears to be the main building demolition raft is being cleaned up nicely, and I am beginning to see a more detailed picture but it is still to early to say about definable features like for example walls, although I am almost sure we have one in the very top left hand corner. 

The North section of the trench as you can see we are starting to uncover the deeper archaeology. We again have the very tops of flint starting to show and we have a more defined edge where the demo raft slope into the deeper section with hopefully more insitu archaeology. This is an important section as it should tie in both sides of the trench. I said yesterday if our testpit data prove to be true then we are right ontop if it and as predicted that is exactly how the trench is looking today. Meaning all the really hard work is done and we have reached the stage we have all work so hard to reach. Now we have 6 days left to find some answers so the clock is ticking...

I am going to close the blog today by saying when a professional archaeologist says "its interesting" they really mean its exciting lol. Today (sadly) im really excited about this dig and tomorrow I am going to tell you exactly why we have been digging and surveying around in the footprint of St Helens church.  The digs in Swingate Avenue, the Six Bells public house and the Buttway field itself are not random, the members know what we are doing and why.  The truth is after well over 15 years of critical study into the Hoo peninsular and its rich history and archaeology (to the craziest degree). There is something here and it is nationally important of that there is no doubt. I am not saying its related to this dig or the possible building underneath but I will say I wont stop until we find it..  I know without doubt its here somewhere under this historic village and it must be near the church...

Tomorrow we are onsite from 9am/5pm please come along bring the kids and sign up we only have 6 days left. If your struggling financially even though the members fee is very small come and talk to me in private and we can sort something out. Its a great opportunity to involve yourself with this really cool community project.

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 9

Sunday day 9 and again it was a tough day of digging today, but we have a really great group of people, and the sun continued to shine.... The North end of the trench we are seeing some finds including pot and tile coming out from the deeper deposits. If the previous test pit data is correct in this area, we should start to see the archaeology (highlight by our resistivity survey) present near the church wall.  

In the South end of the trench we are working hard to clean back the demolition layer to reveal the faced flint and chalk/lime mortar. This is a painstaking process because of the risk of disturbing possible in situ features. Over the next few days we should see more of the layer revealed and we can make better sense of whats going in an area that covers half the trench.

Remember if you want to know more about what we are doing then feel free to come along and ask question or even take part. We are onsite tomorrow 9.30am/5pm. 

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 8

Day 8 on the village green and the dig is really starting to take shape and honestly its really tough going. The main reason being we are actually starting to excavate the high resistivity area in the trench (south end). We are beginning to see what the materials were used, in the construction of what ever lays beneath the Buttway. You can see from the picture below we have just begun to clear the demolition layer and although its to early to interpret the feature, you can clearly see the faced flint and chalk/lime mortar. Hints of Ragstone has been found in other areas of the trench but it early to say whether this was involved with the building itself.

In the North end of the trench that showed the deeper features on the resistivity survey we have excavated context 4, the feature highlighted in the picture below. You can clearly see a cut in the section containing gravel that after hours of debate and careful excavation we found..... A sewer pipe that doesn't not appear on any service plans and did not show on the survey. The depth of the pipe was found at 75cm and has carefully been recorded and back filled fortunately its just in the very corner of the trench. 

Although the trench is not producing as many finds,it does bode well that what ever is recovered in this trench next week, will help securely date this site (fingers crossed). The award today goes not to the best finder but to all our junior members who have worked really hard on the dig and finds station. Its going to be an interesting week ahead I am sure.... Here are some finds made and cleaned our local children.

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 7

Interesting day 7 on the village green we are now beginning to see a picture build for the finds from the top layers. The earliest date so far is 12th century leading through to 13th/14th century with some 15th century included (hardly any of the finds have been clean so its just a guide). Interesting pieces include Dartford rilled ware, Scarborough ware and some imported pottery yet to be identified. Below is a picture of a sieve see if you can spot the find. 

Work today has started at the top end (south) of the trench to clear the demolition raft that should be present, across half the trench if we have do our homework correctly. This weekend we should start to retrieve (hopefully) earlier stuff that may indicate the date of the building itself. So today's blog will be shorter than usual due to the fact that we have started stage 2 of the dig and its beers o'clock.

A very big thank you to Gerald and Jill from Kent archaeological society for coming to the dig, to see how we are progressing and giving us support and a few helpful pointers. I just want to thank all the members for working so hard on the dig itself this week, I know its been tough going but we are all very excited about the next stage of the project.

On a personal note its interesting we have such early dates in the top layers, I wonder if what the resistivity survey has show up is earlier in date. In a week or so time we should know. Really impressed with the dig itself and the site and I think you will agree the trench looks good. 

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 6

It was another great day today in what may be one of our most successful ever society digs, on this site next to the beautiful St Helen's church.  Now we have fully excavated and recorded the remains of the metalled surface we decided to spend the day preparing for the next stage of the dig and sifting the remaining spoil from the metalled layer. 

We’ve continued to make some fascinating finds, most notably today we found a fragment of painted floor tile, fragment of stain glass and some lead use to construct stain glass windows. We are still getting vast amounts of good diagnostic pottery and tile as you can see from a sample of today's items. When digging commences tomorrow we may actual start getting evidence about the demolition spread and the material used in construction. A final thought on the finds is the amount of knapped and faced flint we are finding in these top layers, I would assume this was related to the construction of the church or possibly whats under the Buttway field itself. 

Its important to understand a site like St Helens church and its surrounds in terms of its it context locally and regionally, as previously stated our site sits next to the church. St Helens is actually the 3rd largest church in Kent... 

A little understood fact about St Helens church is that it was formally a collegiate church. In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organized as a self-governing corporate body, which maybe presided over by a dean or provost. In its governance and religious observance a collegiate church is similar to a cathedral.

St Helens comprises a nave, transepts and tower which were built during the 13th century but incorporates late 12th century elements. The chancel was rebuilt in the mid 14th century and the porch is a 15th century addition. Restorations took place in 1853, 1864 and 1884. The church is constructed of ragstone and flint with a plain tiled roof.  

Cliffe-at-Hoo was one of the early Saxon minsters founded in Kent and in 1086 the church was recorded. In fact it was one of the 8 "old foundations" in Kent and there can be little doubt its important Medieval collegiate past, is clearly linked to its illustrious Saxon heritage. This is another big reason we chose this dig in terms of archival work and conducted the resistivity surveys of the churchyard and Buttway field. Its through no coincidence we are digging directly in the churches "monastic footprint" (a very interesting area to us).

IMG_1455.JPG

Although everyone is very tired after a long week of digging spirits remain high and I'm pretty sure there will be no complaints about future digs here, it really is a great site. Today I think Brian and Andy share the best finds award for the painted floor tile and lead window fitting.

We are onsite tomorrow 9.30am/5pm we would be happy to explain the project and dig itself. A big thank you to local resident Paul for bringing along his fantastic Roman pot recovered from a kiln on the marshes destroyed by quarrying for the cement industry pictured below. 

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 5

Really productive day 5 on the Buttway field today. We are still working through the spoil from the metalled surface. The more I see from this layer the more convinced I am the hard standing was in place to stop horses churning up the mud on the field, E.G when parking for church or other events like a fete or market. There are lots of horseshoe nails and the actual metalled layer in some place is 10/15cm in depth so the quite a significant surface for E.G a playground for the old school. Of course at this stage it is subject to interpretation so this may change once all the data is processed after the dig. Speaking of data there is so much pot and different finds coming out unfortunately I can only show a very small selection but today the trench is coming up predominantly Medieval.

High status fineware seems to be the main types with some flat rimmed shellyware and other types making an appearance, even at a brief glance I can see we have some really great pieces. The tile again seems to be predominantly medieval in date. So far I guesstimate about 10 kilo of pottery and finds have been removed from the trench and we still have a long way to go....

At this stage of the dig we are now well into the sealed context layers above the archaeology and honestly so far it has exceeded our expectations in terms of information. After all the spoil is cleared and processed we can start digging again. We took time today to clean down the trench and check the paper work is in order and take stock always good practice. The current state of play is we have several different context now withing the trench and moving forward its time for some serious archaeologying (not even sure thats a word). You can see from the pictures that the trench slopes up to the south representing the demolition layer of the building underneath. We are close to the deeper really interesting stuff we know we are, but its like opening a good bottle of wine why rush it? 

There is a great feeling on site at the moment and the game of who gets the best finds has started and so far Chris our secretary is winning and is star finder of the day lol. There is no doubt everyone is working really hard and we make a great team. So why not become part of it? New member's are signing up daily at the moment, its a great project to become part of especially if your local to the Hoo peninsular. 

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 4.

4 days into the dig and things are really starting to take shape on site. Today we had the mini digger on site to remove the metalled floor layer, unfortunately we still haven't sifted through the spoil but the trench is still producing lots of finds and surprises. With that layer removed and recorded we are really starting to make headway into the deeper deposits (really interesting stuff).

In the south end of the trench just before close of play the building demolition/building raft feature so apparent on the resistivity survey and in the test pits is beginning to appear. I am seeing chalk/lime mortar and large lumps of faced flint in a few spots, so I know we are close in this part of the trench.

Throughout the week I cant help thinking to myself what sort of a building this was because it certainly was very very big.. I am certain having done the research for many years that the Buttway field is a very special and strange area revered through hundreds of years of local history, the maps and archive work show this clearly. That's why the society and myself have spent 6 years preparing for this dig we believe its that important.. Here is a good example of what I mean, do you know how this relatively tiny village green was gifted to us the locals. I quote "In the early part of the present century, Lord Darnley and the Rector, who were jointly, “Lords of the Buttway” voluntarily and surrendered their rights to the Parish Council, in order that it should serve a ‘public good.’ ". Now that is crazy, why are two high ranking titled men called Lords of the Buttway it only a field isn't it? We really cant wait to get a date and maybe some idea on this building after waiting this long, from all the evidence I have seen so far my moneys going on Roman or Medieval (famous last words lol) I hope we get it.. 

Its been a good day and again a special thanks to the kids (Daisy, Charley, Harry, Daniel) who are doing some sterling work on finds processing.  Really pleased with how th dig is progressing and the atmosphere has been great onsite today everyone's working really hard and having fun (the six bells pub is next door after all).

We are onsite tomorrow from 9am/5pm why not come alone and have a look? Even better bring a trowel!

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 3.

Day 3 and we are making good progress after drawing and recording the metalled surface layer and confirming its depth in a 3mx3m section.  Work has begun to remove and record this layer from across the trench, previous work on the site tells us the going will be much easier and all the finds will be a sealed context until we hit the archaeology (hopefully).

I know tomorrow once the metalled surface is all lifted,sieved and sorted from a 40 square meter area we will have lots of finds. The trench continues not to disappoint with some nice finds coming up today.  

Again its great to see so many people coming up and asking questions. Remember this is a dig anyone can join, all we require is a very small fee to cover the insurance. Feel free to contact us via the website also we are on site 9.30am/5pm everyday until the 8th August. 

Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent. Day 2.

Day 2 and thing are really starting to get interesting on site, after removing the turf yesterday we immediately hit a metalled gravel, chalk and flint surface layer that seems to be across the whole field. This was expected from the 3 test pits dug earlier in the year. Whats interesting is the amount and type of finds in the topsoil and the metalled surface itself. The finds so far are uncleaned or processed but we are finding some unusual stuff so forgive the vague descriptions and dates. Today I have seen pot dating from the Roman/Medieval period right up to the 20th century. Other small finds include ceramic bead, small buckle, pound coin, tile and assorted settlement activity all just under the turf!!! Due to the hot weather and complex archaeology its slow going but everyone is working really hard for this community project (because we all know how important this site is). A special thanks to all the local kids that are helping, its great to see them getting involved in understanding and digging there local history. Oh and one last thing you know how the local legend states  “the Village Green adjoining the churchyard on the south goes by the name of Butt-way, and probably an undisclosed portion of the area upon which the Parish butts were set up in the days when the use of the long-bow was obligatory upon every able-bodied free-man below the rank of knight or Esquire.”. I was never convinced of this because I have never seen any evidence of it, but this came up today from the dig (see picture) and now I'm not so sure... Cant wait to get stuck in tomorrow and see whats next. Not forgetting the MASSIVE building underneath that we haven't even got near! Why not pop up and ask questions we encourage any and all involvement we are onsite for the next 2 weeks. 

Arrow head or crossbow bolt..

Arrow head or crossbow bolt..