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Archaeo News 

8 May 2005
Road digs reveal ancient remains in Kent

Archaeologists have discovered iron age remains under the route of a new bypass around the village of Leybourne (Kent, England). In a dig before the construction work, ditches containing pottery, burnt daub, charcoal and animal bone were found. Kent County Council archaeologist, John Williams, said the remains suggested there were Iron Age farming settlements in the area more than 2,000 years ago.
     The council said some of the remains would be preserved beneath the road as construction work gets under way. Archaeologists will now analyse the findings from the dig by Wessex Archaeology, Archaeology South East and Canterbury Archaeological Trust. "This work is important because it helps us to understand the early landscape around Leybourne and West Malling," Mr Williams said. "We can now see that people were living here at least 2,000 years ago in an area where we previously had little evidence."
Archaeologists have also unearthed a prehistoric sickle, which would have been used by some of the earliest farmers in the area. The metallic harvesting implement was retrieved by a team of experts from a second occupation area close to the junction between the A20 and the A228. The object, which was discovered when diggers began to probe an ancient pit, will provide insight into the agricultural existence of some of the first Malling settlers.
     Dr Sue Hamilton, of London's Institute of Archaeology, said: "Sickles obviously made a big change to agriculture because you can encompass a lot of grain with them, whereas earlier farming would have involved picking off individual ears from crops with stone tools." She added: "It is part of a big industrial change which took place and there are lots of other agricultural tools which we don't have anymore because iron doesn't survive in the soil very well."
     In addition to the sickle, other prehistoric finds have included a series of stone loom weights which would have been used in textiles manufacture. Quantities of burnt daub, used in the construction of round houses, have also been recovered. Oxford archaeologist Hannes Schroeder said: "Obviously these are common every day items with no intrinsic value, but in terms of their value to the nation's heritage they are indeed priceless." Although the official excavations drew to a close on Friday, archaeologists will continue to carry out a 'watching brief' to spot further finds as concrete for the bypass is laid down. KCC spokesman Phil Scrivener said: "Some of the Iron Age remains will be preserved beneath the road as construction work gets underway."

Source:BBC News (4 May 2005), This is Kent (5 May 2005)

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