KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Archaeologia Cantiana - Vol. 127   2007 page 435

Researches and Discoveries in Kent

AN EARLY GALLERY AT CHISLEHURST CAVES

In 2006 during groundwork prior to building development at Woodclyffe Drive, Chislehurst, a number of boreholes were sunk to ascertain ground condition and to check for any unidentified caves or voids. This investigative action was necessary as the area of the development lies above part of the south-east portion of the ‘Inner Series’ of Chislehurst Caves.
   One such bore entered an unsuspected cavity at approximately 16m below ground level in an area of disturbed ground indicative of extensive subterranean failure. A CCTV camera was lowered down the borehole and the images obtained were recorded for civil engineering analysis to determine suitable remedial action. The writer was kindly given a copy of the recorded video footage by Mark Lett, the Acquisitions Manager of the developers, Urban Solution Ltd, in order to make an archaeological assessment of the cave space discovered.
   The bore entered the roof of a mined gallery and, having passed through a cavity estimated at 1-1.5m deep, continued down through chalk debris. As there is no reference-scale dimensions could only be estimated. The roof of the passage surrounding the site of the borehole entry showed signs of very recent falls. This almost certainly occurred when the drill broke through the horizontal bed of chalk (c.10-15cm thick) that forms the roof of the gallery. The views obtained from the camera showed a straight horizontal passage with possibly one short 90deg offshoot. Both ends of the tunnel were totally blocked by roof falls and the floor was covered with chalk and glauconitic Thanet Sand debris which shows evidence of flooding at some time in the distant past.
   It is known that Chislehurst Caves suffered severe flooding in the mid 1860s and again as recently as 1968. The Inner Series had already suffered a number of falls in its entrance galleries after mining had ceased which effectively sealed off access. The nineteenth-century floods caused further serious collapses in this region. The observed gallery is within the area of this major collapse zone.
   The Inner Series was the first of the three chalk mines which make up Chislehurst Caves to be worked, with documentary evidence suggesting a commencement date of 1706. Recent archaeological surveys in the accessible parts of the mine confirm its eighteenth-century origin. The newly recorded gallery would have been one of the earliest to have been dug with a probable date of 1707-10.

ROD LEGEAR

Previous page       Back to Page listings       Next page      

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Back the Contents page   To Arch. Cant. List   To Publications On-line   To Research Page   To Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society April 2012

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too research@kentarchaeology.org.uk