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Dartford & District Archaeological Group (DDAG)   -    Rediscovering Dartford - Page 28

11. Woodman’s Yard and Midland
      Bank Sites
   In 1977, the Group received permission from Dartford Borough Council to conduct investigations in an area of land formerly occupied by the premises of Woodman Brothers, scrap merchants. This land lies between the High Street and Bullace Lane, part of which was in the path of the projected Northern Link Road. Owing to the size of this development, the Group concentrated its efforts on two main areas.
   Attention first went to the wasteland which lay to the north of one of the Woodman’s buildings, which at one time had been used for stabling. This area extended as far as the site of a timber-framed building that was demolished in around 1960, known as ‘Home Orchard’. This was the ‘Manor House of Charles,’ built in the 14th century and which later became the servants’ quarters when a much larger building was erected on the north side of the High Street in the 16th century (see page 34). Expectations of finding some evidence of ‘Home Orchard’ were unfortunately dashed only one rubbish pit of l6th/l7th century date was uncovered. This could possibly be linked with the house. Another rubbish pit contained the almost complete skeleton of a pig presumably the victim of some disease.
   Apart from these features and some chalk pathways, little else of significance was found, except for a last minute surprise find located amongst car batteries a bronze coin of Constantinus (305-306 A.D.).
   The second area to be excavated was the site of a recently demolished warehouse, situated at the rear of the Midland Bank. This building had been used by Woodman Brothers for the storage of rags. Soon after the building became derelict it was gutted by fire, became a dangerous structure and was accordingly demolished.
   After some consideration it was decided to limit excavation to that area bounded by the foundations of the demolished building. Traces of a Medieval 

structure, built at right angles to the High Street were located, and it was seen that the building that had rested on these ancient foundations was long and narrow, built of mortared chalk and flint, with timber-framed walls and a tiled roof. No clues were found as to the use which this structure had been put, although this might have been storage. The foundations had been partially destroyed when a trench for a sewer pipe was dug, running north-south, and also by the sinking of numerous rubbish pits. The largest of these pits contained material likely to have come from a nearby public house or inn, perhaps the Bull and George which stood close to this site. This material, which dated from the mid-18th century, included shattered wine bottles, with one almost complete bottle, clay tobacco pipes and domestic pottery.
   The pottery included glazed wares in the form of bowls, dishes and chamber pots. Staffordshire Slip-Ware, tin-glazed earthenware commonly called ‘Delftware’ and stoneware tankards were also found. Some of the pottery, particularly the ‘Delftware,’ may well date from earlier than the 18th century, because the general dating is based on the clay pipes. Clay pipes are known to have a limited life due to their fragile nature compared to that of pottery.
   One of the smaller pits was full of decomposed wood and is believed to have been a ‘saw-pit’. This also contained a strange looking vessel with an equally strange sounding name. a ‘Tyg’. These were tall glazed drinking vessels in which the body shape flares upwards and outwards to the rim, with two handles by which to hold it. These vessels date from the 16th century. Another of the smaller pits contained a large fragment of a pottery moneybox and two brass ‘casting counters’ or jettons. These particular examples were produced in Nuremberg, Germany and would have been used in accounting. Yet another pit contained fragments of no less than five porcelain punch bowls made in China and exported to Europe during the 19th century.
   This second main area chosen for excavation proved to be of greater value and more interesting than the first. It considerably increased knowledge of the wide variety and types of domestic pottery used in Dartford during the post-Medieval period.


Finds from an 18th century rubbish pit, rear of Midland Bank, High Street, 1977

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