The Valiant Sailor - Dover Hill, Folkestone
Our First official dig at a renowned pub in the Folkestone area that has an extremely fascinating history.
The Valiant Sailor pub is situated at the top of Dover Hill, not far from a Saxon cemetery, across the road from a neolithic site, and has been documented on maps for over 300 years. It is on historic pathways, being situated almost at a 3-way junction - the path down to East Wear Bay, the road across the top of the Downs (Crete Road East) and down to Folkestone via Dover Hill, not far from Holy Well.
We decided it would be a great place to start our first dig and got permission from the new owners. For various reasons we decided that we should start our dig in the private garden area. This means that the public are not at risk of falling into our trenches, if the wind blows our spoil heap isn't going to sand-blast any patrons in the beer garden, and we wouldn't be taking up valuable summer outdoor space that patrons may want to enjoy.
And the dig began on Monday, 13th August 2012...
The Chairman removes the first turf
Based on historic pictures and articles, it was decided that we would start the dig in an area that appeared to have no historic buildings, structures or any other known features. We laid out an area of 2 m x 3 m and removed the turfs, allowing Iain, our Chairman, the pleasure of removing the first turf. Then we all got stuck in, including Harry on his Pogo-spade.
We continued to dig down through the topsoil, discovering various items ranging from plastics, metals, ceramics, (all
modern) etc., including some clay pipe pieces which seemed to be rather fitting for the nature of the premises and the related history.
Progressing through the layers, finding some more ceramics and plenty of clay pipe pieces, we discovered a piece of flint tempered pottery (medieval/iron age??), followed by some interesting features for us to excavate.
With the soil having a very sandy texture, it has been easy to distinguish between different features and to progress through the layers, which is rather swift in archaeological terms. It is unusual to be able to progress so fast through various layers of soil.
Promising features appear
Progressing through the layers
At various stages, we re-assess our progress, at some stages we are joined by Matt from the Valiant Sailor.
Our features do not appear to reveal anything of major historical relevance, at this time, although we have not analysed all the information as yet. We have recorded each feature, within each different context, keeping anything we
Excavated features in Trench 1
find in them separately, so that we can do a full, professional analysis once we have completed our excavations.
Interspersed with other finds, we keep discovering more and more of the clay pipes, providing a time-consuming pastime for our dedicated pot-washers, who painstakingly use various methods to remove the sand and clay from the shafts of the pipe stems and other artefacts.
Matt joins us assessing our progress
As there seemed to be a consistent texture to the soil, with little in the way of finds, we decided to do a sondage. (Noun: sondage (plural sondages) 1. (archaeology) A small test excavation or test pit to examine the stratigraphy of a site; a deeper investigation of a small part of a larger trench.)
Harry and Lawrence labour over the clay pipe stems that seem to breed in the water
And then we did another sondage in the other corner - neither revealed anything of consequence. With a little more exploration we decided that there was not much more we could find as we were already in the natural deposits, and another trench was born. We hope to return to investigate this site further.