Kent Archaeological Sites
Kent's rich history seems to have begun earlier compared to other regions, according to the plethora of archaeological evidence, which takes people back to the very beginnings of civilisation. For those seeking a deeper knowledge of the past as well as for those studying it, these sites are simply invaluable.
Swanscombe Heritage Park
A site of utmost importance for the quest of tracing England's human inhabitation as far back as possible, Swanscombe Heritage Park, with its archaeological site of Barnfield Pit, has attested human existence dating from the Stone Age era known as the Palaeolithic. These are the earliest human remains found in England to date, thought to be 400.000 years old. Archaeologists discovered them in the form of bone fragments, including a large part of a skull, initially thought to be a man (uncertain in terms of gender at the moment after prolonged study), and known since discovery as Swanscombe Man, though to be either a Homo erectus or an early Homo sapiens. Early tools were found in the vicinity as well, and on other nearby site, parts of prehistoric animal skeletons plus other traces of small animals (amphibians) and a water based habitat were also uncovered. The photo shows a competition winning design by landscape architects Mr Peter Greenstreet and Mr David Robinson (held on behalf of Swanscombe Heritage Park). The eye catching hand-axe sculpture was fabricated by Mr Bob Hogben of BH Engineering and installed and installed into the park in 2005.
The Medway Megaliths
Located on the banks of the river Medway, these vestiges date from the Neolithic period, consisting of deep and long burial chambers. As a particularity, their over ground structure consists of adjoining sarsen stones, which are known to have had deep cultural significance at the time. Underground, they are often lined with stone for better preservation. Using wood instead of stone was not uncommon either yet due to obvious deterioration processes, burial chambers lined with wood are in a more precarious state. Moreover, these prehistoric remnants were repeatedly looted over the centuries in search of valuable possessions, which besides diminishing their content, might have caused some damage as well. Among the most renowned are those which survived in a relatively good condition, Coldrum Long Barrow, Kit's Coty House, Addington Long Barrow, Little Kit's Coty House, Chestnuts Long Barrow and The Coffin Stone. Aside from burial chambers, other remnants of human inhabitation were discovered in the area, such as a prehistoric house dating from the same era and a number of scattered artefacts.
Another Neolithic long barrow, yet this time un-chambered, referred to as Julliberrie's Grave, was found in the vicinity of Chilham parish, on the valley of the River Stour. It was first extensively studied in the early 18th century. Although no actual human remains were actually found, there are various theories regarding the person initially buried there, whilst some do not exclude the possibility that no burial took place at all. In the attempt to establish the presumed interred person's identity, some historical sources point to a Roman tribune named Quintus Laberius Durus and local mythology suggests the long barrow was destined for a giant's remains. Animal remains were unearthed on adjoining grounds, as well as artefacts dating from later times, such as Roman coins and pottery. Over the years, the long barrow has also been damaged by a nearby chalk excavation.
The Ringlemere Barrow
Located near Sandwich, this site was a fruitful endeavour for archaeologists as remnants of various historical periods were found in its grounds, dating as far back as the Neolithic Era, which left behind a substantial amount of pottery. Experts however infer it is likely much older than that and suspect it might have been a henge monument before ulterior use as a barrow, as certain features indicate. The site shows a continued use for burials during the Bronze Age, Iron Age as well as by the Saxons, in later times. By far the most famous artefact found there is the Ringlemere Gold Cup, which is believed to date from 1700- 1500 BC and was unearthed in commendably good condition. It has not been linked yet to the burials site itself yet many say it was most likely related and was moved over the years.
Oldbury Hill Fort and Oldbury Rock Shelters
In 1938, digs were started near Ightham, in Sevenoaks, to unearth a military construction dating from the Iron Age, built into the hill slope and known today as Oldbury Hill Fort. Its use was estimated to approximately 50 years, as its building is dated around 100 BC and it is believed that 50 years later the fort was already destitute. It seems to have served defensive purposes and might have been partially destructed by an attack, possibly during the first Roman invasion in 55 BC. On the same hill slope lie other archaeological sites proving that the area has actually been inhabited at least since the Middle Palaeolithic, as early tools were found which can be traced back approximately 50.000 years. They are known as the Oldbury Rock Shelters and are attributed to Neanderthals.