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Archaeologia Cantiana - Vol. 126   2006 page 393

Researches and Discoveries

Meaney, A.L., 1964, A Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, London.
Parfitt, K., 2003, Report on Excavations at Guilton Mill, Ash, 2003 (Dover
   Archaeological Group archive report submitted to English Heritage, Nov. 2003).
Parfitt, K. and Brugmann, B., 1997, The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery on Mill Hill,
   Deal, Kent
(Soc. Med. Arch. Mono. No. 14).
Richardson, A., The Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries of Kent (Brit. Arch. Rep. British Ser.
   391, 2 vols.).


Wessex Archaeology undertook an evaluation and watching brief between June 2000 and May 2003 at Prospect Place Retail Park, Dartford, on behalf of Pillar Properties Plc, who were redeveloping the site for commercial use. The site (NGR 553950 174400) is known as the location of Dartford Priory, founded by Edward III in 1349, the only Dominican nunnery in England.1 The buildings were largely, if not completely, demolished at the Dissolution and a royal manor house was built in their place. The site is also known for its rôle in the storage of ore for Frobisher’s experimental and ill-fated smelting works (1577-78),2 and for its association with John Hall’s late eighteenth-century ironworks, and later industry.3
   There are no surviving plans or surveys of the Priory, and only one rather sketchy view of the complete Manor House, dating from 1596.4 Parts of the precinct wall survive, and medieval masonry is incorporated into the brick-built Grade II*-listed Manor Gatehouse, the only part of the Manor still standing. The site had clearly been impacted by intense industrial and commercial development in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Despite early antiquarian speculation,5 the plan of the priory and manor were essentially lost until excavations on the site by A.W. Clapham,6 the Dartford District Antiquarian Society (now Dartford Historical and Antiquarian Society),7 the Dartford and District Archaeological Group (DDAG)8 and the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit (KARU)9 on various occasions between 1913 and 1982. Regrettably, understanding of the site remains constrained by either the small scale of this work, or by the lack of detailed published accounts and plans: in some cases even the locations of excavations are unavailable.
   The Wessex Archaeology project comprised a total of 35 evaluation trenches targeted on proposed development. Despite the impacts of earlier construction it was clear that significant islands of archaeological stratigraphy survived beneath the site. Results were used to devise a mitigation scheme which involved raising formation levels above surviving archaeology, so reducing the impact of construction to the localised effects of piled foundations and drainage runs, which were

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