From Burnished Flints To Polished Buttons


Excavations in Maidstone at West Borough School, Waterside and James Whatman Way

Barry Bishop, Peter Boyer, Stuart Holden, Chris Jarrett and Joanna Taylor with Jonathan Butler, 2016.

PCA Kent Papers 2

ISBN 978-0992667283


This volume brings together the results of archaeological excavations by Pre-Construct Archaeology in advance of redevelopment, at three sites in Maidstone, Kent. Supplemented by documentary research, each of these excavations epitomises a different aspect of the town’s past.

The earliest evidence came from investigations at West Borough School (Site 1), to the west of the town centre, where ditches, pits and associated finds provide evidence for occupation spanning the Bronze Age to Roman periods. The evidence adds to a growing picture of agricultural intensification along the north Kent coastal belt in the later prehistoric period. However, the most remarkable discovery was an apparently unique assemblage of polished flints had been buried in a Bronze Age enclosure ditch.
At Waterside (Site 2) evidence attests to the post-medieval expansion of settlement beyond the Saxon and medieval core of the town. Cess-pits and buildings, dating from the 16th century onwards, demonstrate the development of a series of tenements. Late 19th century census records demonstrate that these were the homes of working families, primarily employed on the barges that plied the adjacent River Medway.

Excavations at James Whatman Way (Site 3) were focussed on the structural remains of a complex of buildings that formed part of Maidstone Cavalry Barracks. Initially constructed in the late 18th century, these barracks survived until the 1990s. Metal buckles, buttons, knives and cigarette tins, lost within the drainage system beneath a former gymnasium, provide an insight into the daily lives of those who lived and worked here.

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