NEWS April 2022
Our digging season starts again
Sunday 17th April
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Georgian and Victorian Corn Milling in the Southborough Valley
Following our previous extensive investigation of the Georgian/ Victorian Cornmill site on Powder Mill Lane, the building remains uncovered at the end of the last dig season will lead us to uncover further walls, floors and industrial finds this season. With the site having survived over the
winter we will be starting our dig on Easter Sunday, exploring the foundations of the corn mill and revealing the mill walls and hopefully some internal structures. New diggers are very welcome, and we can provide the training and equipment to allow diggers of all levels of experience to learn new skills and uncover more of the history of the Southborough Valley, particularly its industrial past and how water management provided the power to drive the mills, forges and furnaces located in the valley.
SHAAS is your local Community Archaeology society, set-up as a non-profit organisation to identify, record, safeguard and promote the archaeological heritage of the Southborough Valley and surrounding areas.
Our investigations have covered a wide range of sites, from Iron Age metal working, through Medieval farming and into a Georgian and Victorian industrial complex, with new and exciting sites planned for the future.
Our goals are achieved through performing local archaeological excavations, with the aim of educating, training and providing access to a wide range of archaeological techniques for those interested within the local community. In addition to excavations, members can undertake desktop research (hunting for old records and information online), field walking, metal detecting and other heritage surveys.Each year we select a local site to investigate and answer specific questions about the life and times of the site and how it contributed to the local environment.
At our current site, the presence of Georgian and late Victorian bottles, supported by diverse Victorian finds, tells us that the site was probably being used by the local community for over a century for industrial and domestic usage.
Mid 19th Century Clay Pipe with maker’s initials on the foot of the pipe
As an example of multiple strands of evidence providing valuable information, in our current dig we also discovered an almost intact Clay Pipe, whose maker's mark allowed us to date the find to the mid Nineteenth century as the pipe maker was based in Tonbridge and only active from 1846 to 1851. The pipe maker’s details were identified through desktop research, and helps us to date the pipe and by association the layer in which it was discovered, probably dropped by someone linked with the final phases of the railway and local viaduct construction.
Our digging season is typically April through September, with the digs taking place each Sunday (weather permitting). The images below show the same trench from one Sunday to the next Sunday during last summer, with a particularly heavy down pour, between the two weekends.
“A week in the life of a trench. Bailing out again”
In addition to the primary annual excavation, we support local organisations that also have an interest in the history of Southborough (see community). These activities have included providing practical Archaeology taster events with the Kent High Weald Trust Project focused on Southborough Common. Participation in the annual Heritage Week in September.
We also aim to educate and enthuse children, families and adults who have an interest in history and archaeology to explore their heritage. SHAAS can offer practical taster sessions for families and groups such as Scouts and Home Education groups and also undertakes primary schools visits. Our volunteers have a wealth of knowledge that contributes to our excavations and research: they welcome the opportunity to share it with the local community.
Experienced SHAAS leaders ensure that our community excavations follow Archaeological Best Practise and take responsibility for recording and documenting the sites for the benefit of future Southborough residents.
SHAAS membership benefits include: practical excavation training and experience, access to SHAAS excavation reports and research and an opportunity to learn from the experience of other volunteer amateur and professional archaeologists and historians. You are welcome to come and visit our current site for a taster session. However, should you decide to join us regularly we ask that you become a member please, so you are covered by our insurance. Annual membership fees are currently £5 for an individual and £10 for a family, which helps to pay for insurance and equipment costs. (see membership)
We look forward to your joining our society and to pursue new and interesting locations around Southborough as we uncover our history and heritage, and we hope you will join us for our next dig season.
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