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Medieval Fields and 'corn-dryers' at land off Warren Lane, Ashford, Kent

Atkins, Robert and Webster, Michael (2010) Medieval Fields and 'corn-dryers' at land off Warren Lane, Ashford, Kent. [Client Report] (Submitted)

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n November 2009, OA East conducted a watching brief and subsequent excavation at land off Warren Lane, Ashford, Kent in advance of a Bupa care home development (NGR 600210 143581).
The watching brief uncovered medieval features within the centre of the site and this led to an excavation of an area of 120m². The watching brief and excavation only found two phases of activity spanning around a 100 or so year period (the later 12th with no datable artefacts after the end of the 13th century). In the first phase, the excavations found part of a field enclosure of unknown use. The field system comprised fairly shallow ditches which survived up to 1.1m wide and 0.3m deep. The backfills within the ditches were all similar including being largely sterile, containing only a few medieval sherds dating to the late 12th to middle 13th centuries as well as some residual Middle Iron Age, LPRIA/Roman pottery sherds and a worked flint flake. The lack of artefacts within the backfill of these ditches imply the fields were probably well away from medieval settlement.
The second phase of works show that the field system had gone out of use and at least two new ovens ('corn-dryers') were constructed as well as associated features (pits and post-holes). The 'corn-dryers' were located c.50m to the east of the main road (now called the Maidstone Rd), which seems to have been medieval in origin, which ran past the medieval Repton manor, 400m to the west of site, and then into Ashford. The post-holes did not form a coherent pattern and were likely to have been small wooden structures and fence lines demarcating and protecting the 'corn-dryer' structures. There were several pits, some intercutting, two were possibly for holding water. The pits were backfilled with deposits including some clean out deposits from the ovens. The charred plant assemblage recovered was predominantly cereal grains (mostly wheat, some barley and a few others) with occasional weed seeds and legumes. There was a complete absence of other material such as animal bone, shells and other "domestic" artefacts implying this was material was not an occupation related assemblage. In addition to this material there were localised depositing of pottery, possibly used by workers from the ovens. The mostly unabraded pottery included two nearly complete cooking vessels and a socketed handled bowl which was used for food preparation.
The ovens were abandoned by AD 1300 and after this event there were no later features seen and It is likely the site turned to pastoral farming, or other uses which left no archaeological footprint. Modern maps points to a rifle range running north to south through the eastern part of the site. This area was presumably used during the 18th to 20th century for the nearby barracks based at the former Repton manor, c.400m to the west.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Kent
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Chris Faine
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2013 09:46
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2013 09:46
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/1165

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