By the Medway Marsh


Excavations at Grange Farm, Gillingham, Kent 2003–2006

PCA Monograph 24



The area around Grange Farm has been dominated by a manorial centre since the medieval period and elements of this structure still stand. But as this monograph illustrates, by weaving together archaeological evidence and extensive research, a vivid, detailed picture has emerged of an enduring human presence at the site, from fleeting visits during early prehistory to a dramatic bombing of the landscape during the Second World War.

Occupation at Grange Farm began in earnest in the Late Iron Age, but the early post-conquest period saw increased activity in the area. The Roman road of Watling Street ran just 2km south of the site, while marshlands to the north were exploited as an important centre for the manufacture and distribution of salt and ceramics. Both clearly influenced the site’s development and by the early second century a holloway traversed the site, linking the two. By the fourth century major changes had been wrought. A new settlement layout incorporated an aisled building. Walled enclosures hint at the presence of orchards; ferrous metal-working and silver-refining were both practised. A stone mausoleum was built which held the remains of a woman in a lead-lined coffin; this was lifted to enable controlled excavation and detailed analysis off site. Excavations unearthed gold and jewelled necklaces, one of which is thought to have been an heirloom piece modified into a bracelet for a child.

Situated on an elevated terrace with far-reaching views, the mausoleum would have been visible for miles around and for many centuries as it stood, albeit in a ruinous state, into the 12th century. One of the earliest Scandinavian-style brooches known from England, a gilded silver example, may have been some form of votive offering focussed on this mausoleum and represents a particularly rare late-fifth-century find.

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