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Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent

An “incredible” prehistoric henge has been unearthed during an archeological dig in Sittingbourne. The Bronze Age find at the Meads in Sonora Fields is the first of its kind to be confirmed and excavated in Swale.

Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent
An aerial view of the site [Credit: Canterbury Archaeological Trust]
Experts said the Neolithic monument “would have been a significant feature on the landscape”, and its discovery centuries later at the centre of a busy housing estate could turn into a future mecca for historians.

Dr John Hammond, a specialist in prehistory at Canterbury Archeological Trust, which carried out the work, said: “This is an incredibly important site. It’s the second confirmed henge monument to be found in Kent [the first was in Ringlemere near Sandwich] and dates back to the period of Stone Henge. It’s incredibly exciting and we look forward to finding out more about how our ancestors lived 5,000 years ago. At the moment it’s a site of regional importance, but in two years’ time we could be talking about one of national importance.”

The trust began investigating the site - part of Meads housing estate - last November.

It was organised ahead of a proposed housing development by Abbey New Homes and followed a dig in 2008 at a neighbouring site which uncovered an Anglo-Saxon cemetery as well as Neolithic, Bronze Age burials.

Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent
A horse's skeleton was among the finds [Credit: Canterbury Archaeological Trust]
During the latest exploration, archaeologists realised they were dealing with a henge when two circles of identical post-holes were revealed inside the large outer ditch. Finds included broken pottery, flint implements, a piece of unworked amber, a human cremation in an urn and the remains of a crouched human burial, where the body is laid on its side.

A group of four Anglo-Saxon graves were also discovered. These were thought to be “outliers” from the cemetery found during the 2008 dig. The graves contained a few personal items but the bodies they were buried with did not survive.

Dr Hammond, who also teaches archaeology at the University of Kent, said: “As our research continues, we hope to be able to build up a good picture of life in the Murston and Iwade areas during the early Bronze Age, which at this time is something we only have a very limited understanding about.

“To find a monument of this kind is very rare.”

For more information, visit the Canterbury Archaeological Trust's website

Author: Andrew Gray | Source: Kent Online [June 07, 2013]

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