A resistivity survey of the Buttway, Cliffe at Hoo, Kent was carried out in conjunction with the West Kent Archaeology Society on Saturday 31st January 2015. The purpose of the geophysics was to investigate if any features were present under the Buttway that could be targeted in future activities of CAHHS. The main archaeological excavation is planned for July/August 2016. It is good practice to ground truth features seen in the geophysics to further confirm the identification/identify the features where possible. It is our intention over the bank holiday weekend to undertake small scale excavation to investigate the features in a staged approach. It was decided that the investigations were to undertaken over a period of three/ five years. The excavations would be open to members of the community along with other local history groups in the area. We decided that this test pit excavations would be completed over one weekend in preparation for the main two week excavation this summer.
As stated above the main aim of the test pit weekend was to ascertain and prove the result of the resistivity survey with a view of how to approach our big dig this summer and what it was actually under the ground. We are now into day 2 and so far it has been a fantastic dig. Its now clear that we are indeed looking at a significant building in a very special area of the village. Below is a brief introduction with pictures describing where we are at and what we have found so far.
Test pit A (Trench number TPBUT100)
This test pit was positioned at the very top of the picture above with the sole purpose of giving us a better idea of what the low resistivity features are (low resistivity meaning the blues,green and yellows). So far the test pit has produced a variety of dating evidence and at the close of play today we hit building foundations at a depth of about 50cm. We decided this test pit had the best chance of producing more information and will be kept open for the remainder of the dig.
Test Pit B (TPBUT200) was positioned at the very center of the high resistivity area (High res red area) within the main building in the middle of the main survey picture. The test pit itself did not disappoint as we hit building foundations flint, chalk and lime mortar very close to the surface although its hard to say from such a small area it has confirmed the presence of a building the need for the full excavation this summer. This test pit will be close as we risk damaging the insitu archaeology and will be left for the main dig along with test pit C.
Test Pit C (TPBUT300)
Test pit C was place over an area of high resistivity outside the main building area in order to give us a better understanding of some of the more random areas and how best to approach the site as a whole. Again the test pit produced result almost immediately 20/30cm under the floor surface we came unto a chalk, lime mortar wall clearly showing a more complex site than the resisitivity survey suggests. So as far as this test pit weekend goes we have answer the questions we had and now we have 100 more!!!!
As you can see from the brief this project is turning out to be a very exciting project and its hoped will benefit the community immensely with regards to understand the importance of the area. If you live locally you will already know the Buttway field has always been a very special place in proximity to St Helens Church (the 3rd largest church in Kent).. As chairman of the society I would just like to add that many years research had gone into the parish in general and its very clear in the archives and mapping that the Buttway field is a most unusual piece of land in the way that it was so revered in the distant past. As with all our project we undertake the research has always lead us to our next dig and nothing we do is random. We have hit building foundations and archaeology in every test pit and trench we have dug in the past 3 years.. Its very clear to us that this particular dig could possibly be our most important to date and unlike many digs and site in the UK there is a chance (no matter how small) that this could be a nationally important site.
We would like to thank WESSEX archaeology for turning up onsite and providing information and advice/training on how to proceed and its was also great to see so many local people of all ages coming up to the dig and engaging with us and joining in. We will be onsite tomorrow if anyone would like to join us we start at 10am.