*** NEWS May 2021***

We are now able to dig following the latest Government Covid guidance.

Please inform Tony (Chairperson) via the contact page if you would like to attend.
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Event Times

Sunday 12 September: 1100-1500, Tours every 30 minutes
Sunday 19 September: 1100-1500, Tours every 30 minutes

Georgian and Victorian Corn Milling in the Southborough Valley

Mill House Barn, Powder Mill Lane,Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 9EG

Georgian and Victorian age corn mill currently being excavated. Corn Mill was powered by a 5m diameter waterwheel and water management was key to the industrial development of the Southborough Valley, with gunpowder work, iron forges and mills.

Iron, Gunpowder, Corn and Railways in the Southborough Valley – an opportunity to investigate an archaeological site. Powder Mill dig site is rarely open to the public. Originally part of a Norman deer park, this quiet rural field has seen iron and gunpowder manufacturing as well as corn milling.

Open Day for the excavation of a Corn Mill site which had a 5m waterwheel and operated from the late Georgian era through the Victorians to finally being abandoned in 1923 and demolition in 1938. The current site will allow visitors to experience the past industrial glory of the Southborough valley with its mill, gunpowder works and metal working forges. The site shows old mill walls and working surfaces and our illustrated tours will provide map evidence and a selection of local finds.

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We are delighted to be involved in this year's
Southborough and High Brooms Festival. 

We plan to have a display stall with information and finds from our past and current excavations and some archaeology based children's activities. ​
Please come and visit us.

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.

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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.

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“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.

Need more information? Please get in touch using the form below or via our Facebook Page

Contact Us

If you would like to contact the society, simply fill out the form below. Giving your details and adding your message or question. Someone will reply as soon as possible.

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