Past Excavations

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2017-18 Powdermill Lane: Forge Building

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The Powder Mill Lane site was excavated based on the discovery of a brick wall as part of a revetment which forms part of the northern edge of an old mill pond. The 1840 Tithe map shows a building on our site which was demolished as part of the construction of the Colebrook railway viaduct & associated embankment in 1845. The brick wall in the revetment was probably associated with a waterwheel, indicating industrial use, with power being supplied by the waterwheel which could have been used to drive equipment such as trip hammers. This might also have been the location of an earlier gunpowder mill, as forges and gunpowder works dominated the early industrial landscape of the Southborough valley.


A diverse range finds have been located, including a mixture of domestic items, such as clay pipe stems and glazed pottery; industrial items, such as metal tools and railway related equipment; plus a possible fragment of a waterwheel paddle. Findings of slag across the site indicate the presence of metal working forges, including a finery forge, in the vicinity of the site.

2016 Honnington Farm - Medieval Fruit Processing Facility

The Honnington Farm site (Vauxhall Lane) was excavated based on the findings of a geophysical survey, which indicated a rectangular magnetic anomaly (30m x 20m) located parallel to the edge of an old orchard and next to a trackway leading from Southborough to Tonbridge The outcome of the excavation was that the rectangular magnetic anomaly matched the position of a late 19th Century deposit of CBM (Ceramic Building Materials) which contained magnetised material. Based on the location and age of the site, one possible scenario was that the site represented a wooden barn, located at the edge of the orchard and next to a trackway, where produce was collected, packaged and sent to Tonbridge for shipment to London via the then newly established railway.

2014-15 Brokes Wood: Iron Age Bloomery Furnace

This was the first site explored by SHAAS and is located deep among the trees in Brokes Wood. The site includes a primary bloomery furnace dating to the Middle Iron Age c.500BC, plus associated evidence of buildings (via post holes) and secondary (smaller) furnaces. Locally produced charcoal and nearby ironstone would have provided the raw materials to support this industry, which developed as a major iron producer in the Weald area through the Iron Age and Roman period, and later in the 15th to 18th centuries when it dominated production of bar iron (16th century) and later British cannon production (until c. 1770), before declining due to technology changes (eg use of coke) and foreign competition.

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