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).


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.