Channel Tunnel Rail Link Section 1

Stuart Foreman, 2004 (updated 2009)

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Stuart Foreman (2009) Channel Tunnel Rail Link Section 1 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000230

Lithics - Scheme Wide Research Report

Summary

Flint assemblages were recovered throughout the length of the CTRL from preliminary field walking, 77 evaluations and 40 detailed excavations, of which eleven were sufficiently large to warrant detailed analysis. The overall density of flint was relatively low although its recovery provides important evidence for unbroken prehistoric activity from the Palaeolithic to the late Bronze Age in Kent.

The results have highlighted the important role of the Lower Greensand ridge as an axial route to the coast with access via tributary valleys to the Clay with Flints and Wealden hinterland in the Mesolithic. Early/middle Mesolithic activity was recorded at Saltwood Tunnel where eight hollow based microliths were found in a tree throw feature. Significant late Mesolithic assemblages with triangular and crescentic microliths were collected from Beechbrook Wood and Sandway Road, where traces of activity areas were preserved around hearth features. These sites are thought to represent hunting camps of early 6th millennium BC date.

Mesolithic and early Neolithic assemblages using technologies that were virtually indistinguishable from one another demonstrated continuity of landscape use along the Greensand ridge. Activity increased on the Chalk, with continued use of areas capped by Clay with Flints. Important domestic flint assemblages were recovered from tree throws at Eyhorne Street, stressing the important role that these features continued to play in the landscape both as centres for occupation and catchments for midden debris. Elsewhere, at Saltwood Tunnel and Beechbrook Wood, Neolithic material was recovered from deliberately cut pits. Miscellaneous retouch was most prevalent but formal tools were dominated by scrapers and microdenticulates, comparable with other early Neolithic sites from Southern Britain.

The excavated assemblages included material from the important sites of White Horse Stone, with an associated early Neolithic long house dated to the early fourth millennium BC and Pilgrim's Way, adjacent to the Medway Megaliths. Assemblages from the house were small with both sites interspersed with features of late Neolithic date, associated with Grooved Ware. Differential distributions suggested that there may have been some form of structured/placed deposition in these pits.

A few small diagnostic groups of material from field walking were assigned to the Mesolithic or early Neolithic, however most of the surface flint was considered to represent late Neolithic or Bronze Age assemblages, with earlier material more frequently preserved in sub surface hollows or pits.

The onset of agriculture in the Neolithic and Bronze Age lead to increased deposits of colluvium frequently sealing earlier sites on lower slopes.

Occupation continued across the entire area throughout the Bronze Age where relatively small flint assemblages reflected the declining standards of flint technology. They occurred in pits, postholes and increasingly, from ditches, features used to define land boundaries, settlement enclosures and funerary monuments.

Other material from the programme linked to this report.

Phase 2 - Specialist Research Reports

This material is also discussed in the Lithics Specialist Research Report.


Phase 2 - Integrated Site Report

This section provides a Scheme Wide Summary of material taken from the site specific Integrated Site Reports. A full list of these Integrated Site Reports can be found in the Site List.