St Leonard's Road Hythe archaeological dig begins to reveal secrets

Contributed by editor on Apr 19, 2017 - 03:55 PM


By Ray Duff

The first of what is hoped to be a number of archaeology excavations at Hythe's 'The Triangle' area in St Leonard's Road took place over the Easter weekend.


Top: The dig in full swing. Below: Trench One metal detecting  Photos: Ray Duff

Members of Folkestone Research & Archaeology Group (FRAG) carried out the dig alongside people from Hythe Local History Society and the Friends of Hythe Triangle group.

The inside the area previously known as Pound number three, was a former late middle ages animal pound dating back to around the 18th Century or possibly just before.

Three one metre square trenches; the usual for small excavations were opened across the site.

Once the gravel and a former canvas membrane had been breached, diggers first began to encounter rubble from former buildings and clinker, the latter probably from the former gas works fairly nearby. Also mixed with this were pebbles and  Kentish peg-tiles which are very common.

Top: Trench One completed with souterrain. Below: Close up of the stratified layers and souterrain  Photo: Ray Duff

The building rubble consisted of many 20th C brickwork and some stone blocks which had been dumped over many years, probably when nearby homes and workplaces were being renovated.

Some of the stone blocks had clearly been worked on as groves and smoothing was evident. This was likely done when the original building took place.

Whilst each trench varied in content, the bricks and stones were mainly at the top but below these layers diggers began to find items going back into the early 20thC and then the Victorian period.

These consisted of corroded metal items; such as pins, probable fence posts and braces  small glass pieces including fizzy drink bottle stoppers, a fair amount of very broken pottery and plate, some of which was highly decorated.

There were also several clay pipe pieces, which might be dated by the decoration on the bowl ends. Also found were a number of broken late Victorian glass bottles, a number of which had lettering on them and were obviously made in Hythe.

In one trench a large metal bar was found surrounded by much clinker and burnt material which provided quite a lot of discussion as to what it may have been part of especially as there was reportedly a small hut of some form in the Triangle in WW2.

In the end it may only have been a discarded item from earlier or later than this but further examination of the area may be required.

Finds washing was brisk. Below: Sacks of brick, tile and metal objects  Photo: Ray Duff

It appeared that the depth at which the original land surface; in this case a beach; was evident was at about 65cm below current ground level; though that may vary a little over the whole area.

This was found in Trench One by means of a 'souterrain cut' into one corner of it which is a way of seeing what may lay further below the main excavation area. Even when this was done a further number of small pieces of pottery and glass were revealed.

During the dig quite a number of local residents, some with their children, also visited the site to see what was being found and some joined in alongside the 'professionals'.

At the end of the dig, it was considered to have been a success and that further and probably larger trench excavations would be required in other parts of the area to explore the various uses it has had over the last few hundred years.

Once these are completed, there is expected to be a 'Watching Brief' when the area is fully cleared ahead of the now Grade II listed structure being renovated into a walled community garden.

More information

Hythe 'The Triangle'
Hythe Local History Society:

Finally, just to let people know that the next large archaeological dig in Folkestone is once again to be at East Cliff on the Iron Age site.

It will be open from 10 July to 05 August 2017 daily from 10am - 4pm with an 'official' Open Day set for Saturday July 29th; but visitors welcome any day.


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