Excavations in White Ash Wood in 1912-1913 disclosed the
foundations of a Roman Era house with walls three feet thick, built of flint
with cement then known to the Roman builders. Included was a bath house with a
drain away in the corner of the cement floor in which the builder with bare feet
had stepped while the cement was wet, leaving an imprint of his bare foot (left
- size about 8) in the floor. This was clearly seen nearly 2000 years after.
The building uncovered was about 40 feet wide by 100 feet long and
experts suggest that it continues in the wood not yet grubbed up, in the E. S.
This site was about 70 feet south of the pond known as Pump Pond,
which up to about 1900 was a spring of good water, but since then has
practically dried up.
Roman period houses always built near drinking water.
Also in Nine Horse Wood is the remains of a flint stock corral, in which it is
suggested that stock belonging to the owners of the ruined house, was kept at
night, away from wild beasts such as wolves etc. This wall was probably 8 feet
high and enclosed over half an acre, and Yew trees probably 1500–1800 years
old can still be seen growing through the ruins of it.
Definite research has proved that the ground between Hartley and
Ash Church was inhabited from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago, as large quantities of
excellent specimens of flint axeheads, arrows, knives etc., were found and
collected by the late Mr George Day of North Ash Farm and specimens of the finds
can still be seen in the Rochester, Dartford and Maidstone Museums., and above
all in the British Museum.
Collecting these flints was Mr George Day’s interesting hobby.
His tutor was old Benjamin Harrison of Ightham, the village grocer who devoted
his life to Flint Collecting and who was the first to bring scientific method to
the study of the subject in this country. In those exciting days there was not a
labourer in the vicinity of North Ash Farm who had not his eye open for flints,
and when he found one did not take it to Mr Day, eager to learn its history.
Another Ash man with a similar hobby was the late
Mr Victor F James who lived at Manns Farm House, West Yoke. Mr James
also looked to old Benjamin Harrison as his mentor, and his especial
study was the subject of Eoliths. The term, is derived from the
Greek "Eo" meaning "the dawn," and was used to
designate flints belived to have been shaped by humanity at the dawn
of the ages, even before the Paleoliths of the old, and the Neoliths
of the New Stone Age. Examples of these last abound all over the South
of England, but Eoliths are considerably less profusely distributed.
The site most prolific with them in the whole world, according to Mr
James’ records is a certain field on the estate of South Ash Manor.
It was to be near this site that Mr James came to Manns
Farm House. With the permission of Mr G Leavey, the then owner of
South Ash Manor, in 1934 he reopened a pit dug in 1921 by Mr F W
Shilling. His excavations resulted in the bringing to light of Eoliths
in abundance, many of which have found their way into the prominent
Museums of England and America. In his records, Mr James pointed out
however, that the authenticity of the Eolith had not yet been
established without fear of possible contradiction. But it is
certainly remarkable that these flints, which some authorities declare
were being fashioned by man a million years ago, are readily
recognisable by the nature of the chipping and can be classified into
definite types which constantly recur. Mr James collection was
reported to be the most comprehensive collection of Eoliths in the
world, and the majority of these were unearthed in the field at South
Ash. He also recorded that a brown flint drift crosses Ash which
produces mahogany-coloured flints.
Mr James was a member of the Prehistoric Society and the
Kent Archaeological Society. He issued a monograph on Kent flints, and
also wrote a number of papers on this and kindred subjects. He
corresponded with fellow enthusiasts in all parts of the world as a
result of his discoveries in the field at South Ash Manor.