Southborough Valley Community Archaeology Project


Monday, 24 August 2015

Media interest in the Southborough Valley Project 2015

SHAAS has been quite fortunate to have had a lot of media interest in our community project. To date we have been featured in the local papers, on ITV News Meridian and we are awaiting a visit to the site from BBC Radio. It is clear that the local people want to know more about their ancestors. Thanks to the exposure provided by the Times of T.W. we were visited last month by Derek Johnson of ITV News. Derek's report highlighted that the community aspect of the dig and showed the project leaders were educating people in how to conduct themselves professionally on an archaeological excavation.

A view of trench A, with the bloomery in the middle distance. 
SHAAS would like to acknowledge the Times of Tunbridge Wells for giving us our first news exclusive with a front page article about our community project. Adam Hignett's article about SHAAS's discovery in the Southborough Valley allowed us to reach a wider audience. The headline in the paper read "Discovery of the century" which initially made the SHAAS archaeologist's nervous as they did not actually make this claim but was quoted as doing so. However, it cannot be overstated that the project is definitely a major development for the archaeology of the local area. It is certain that the bloomery,  initially described in the press as an Iron Age "weapon-making furnace,"  is unprecedented in its preservation. We can agree that this discovery has sparked one of the most significant archaeological investigation Tunbridge Wells has seen in over 50 years.

One of our trainees investigates a pattern of concentric steak-holes.

Dr Ian Beavis
Dr Ian Beavis, visiting the site from Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery,  summed up the historical significance of this project in his interview when he said:

"Traditionally the Tunbridge Wells story has been told starting in 1606 with the discovery of the spring... What (SHAAS) want to do is try to tell the story of Tunbridge Wells in a new way, going right back into prehistory."

If you would like to watch the ITV News Meridian report please follow the link below to the ITV News website:

Thursday, 13 August 2015

How did all this come about...

Back in 2014 local metal detectorist Paul Carr, along with Nigel Stapple and the landowner Peter Marshall were detecting in local woodland when they discovered a large mound. Giving off a substantial ferrous metal indication they decided to investigate. A small pit was dug and large amounts of slag and cinder (bloomery waste products) were found. Wealden Iron expert, Jeremy Hodgkinson (WIRG), was invited along and he suggested that a bloomery furnace may be nearby. 

A few days later Paul was standing in an old tree bowl (where a tree once stood) and scraped away at the top soil revealing bright red burnt soil. This was partially revealed to be the well preserved remnants of an ancient bloomery furnace. 

Realising the importance of such a find Nigel set about establishing a community archaeology group to carry out a full scale excavation of the site. 

Enter stage right: Southborough & High Brooms Amateur Archaeology Society.

Directed by archaeologist Eric Hall, a team of volunteers has been burrowing away on site all summer. These pictures should give you an idea of the what we have been up to.

As you can see we are a serious about the archaeology. However, there is always time for a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake. As illustrated by the land owner Peter.