Peters Village secrets unearthed
Archaeologists are currently piecing together and interpreting the history of the Peters Village area after careful excavation during 2014, prior to a start on constructing the new development.
The location shows initial evidence of activity from the Stone Age - up to 6,000 years ago - also taking in the Bronze Age, as well as significant evidence of Roman activity.
Early incarnations of the former Wouldham Hall would then have been influential during mediaeval times.
Aware that historic as well as material treasures could therefore lie beneath the surface, Trenport commissioned an archaeological survey (May-August) by archaeological consultants, CgMs, who employed the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) to undertake fieldwork before any major construction on the new village and its roads network.
While the MOLA experts' survey showed no headline finds such as a treasure trove burial site, Roman mosaic or intriguing human remains - though the bones of three people have been unearthed - they were excited by the overall picture revealed.
This will be the subject of an exhaustive report due shortly, but the archaeologists have issued 'edited highlights' including:
•Yet more evidence of known Roman remains off Old Church Road and close to the site of the former cement works. Another site shows evidence of possible temporary fortifications; could this have been a refuge during the final days of the Romans before they withdrew from Britain c.410AD? Or was this bastion built slightly later using materials from a nearby Roman building?
•Searches close to the river bank show Roman drainage ditches dug to exploit the rich farming potential of the Medway riverside
•More information about Wouldham Hall, with finds including a mediaeval horse harness pendant (see picture)
•Pottery shards in generous quantities from most of the periods found onsite
•One site of human remains is a 'crouched burial' typical of graves dug in the early Bronze Age (c.3,500 years ago).
The Archaeological Consultant leading the project, CgMs Consulting’s Chris Clarke, said: "Occupation of this area over many different periods underlines how important the Medway would have been for moving people and goods around.
"Even the Romans - famed for their roads - could not ignore the simple fact that a decent sized boat could be laden to the gunwales on relatively calm river waters and carry 20-30 times what a contemporary cart would carry, while needing very little manpower to move it."
Commenting on the findings, Trenport Director Chris Hall said: "In our industry you always have mixed feelings in this situation. On one hand, you have to hope that nothing significant is found during the archaeological survey, otherwise you could be looking at a major delay to the project.
"But there is also the secret hope that something exciting will be found, especially as the survey shows this area involved many different cultures - not just the Romans."