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Dartford & District Archaeological Group (DDAG)   -    Rediscovering Dartford - Page 27

10.  Overy Street, Dartford
The Group has always considered its work to be primarily concerned with Urban Archaeology. What could be more urban than a town car park, and what could be more archaeological than digging a hole in the middle of it?
   In fact, the excavations here were confined to each end of the car park. Work started near the Borough Council Cleansing Department, and a series of square grids dug through the tarmac and the underlying rubble soon produced river gravel. Nearest the river itself, a chalk floor and surrounding wall were located. Associated finds showed these to be of Tudor origin. Beneath the Tudor levels Roman strata were, as usual, soon reached. A variety of sherds, perhaps washed down the hillside, gave a broad picture of occupation outside the town.
   Excavation at the High Street end of the car park took place under the shadow of the Church tower across the river. Here again the Group was digging at the heart of the crossroads around which the town grew.
   It was hoped that foundations of the parade of timber framed shops and houses, formerly known as the ‘Chicken Run’ would be 

located. We had been fortunate in having long discussions with the son of one of the shop owners,, who told us exactly which shop was there. We found that we were digging over the site of a bicycle shop, or were we? To our surprise and disappointment, it was found that everything had been disturbed by the blast walls of a civilian air raid shelter which had been constructed during World War II, just a few years after the 'Chicken Run' had been demolished. The backyard of the bicycle shop should, however, just been seen, and beneath this, Medieval layers were encountered. As we worked down, the remains of a hearth, formed from roofing tiles set on edge, following the same principle we observed at Littlebrook, (see page 18) and later at Manor House (see page 22), were uncovered. This would have been the centrepiece of a dwelling built alongside the town’s main thoroughfare five to six hundred years ago. As such, it was in a prime position to allow its occupants a view of everyday life in Dartford at that time.
   They must have seen a constant procession of travellers, pilgrims and others parade past their windows - a privilege that was to be inherited, though perhaps more noisily, by the occupants of the 'Chicken Run’ several centuries later.

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