Category Archives: Perry Wood Archaeology project

What has the Trust for Thanet Archaeology been doing at Perry Wood

Neolithic surprises at Perry Wood

Image of trench excavation
Trench where Neolithic pottery was excavated

Perry Wood is famous for discoveries of flintwork that were left by the first hunter-gatherer groups of Mesolithic people who ranged through the landscape after the last ice age more than six thousand years ago. The excavations we carried out  on Windmill hill earlier this year have uncovered some  rare and important evidence that the first Neolithic farmers settled on the same hilltops two thousand years later.

In a trench excavated to search for evidence of a Roman fort of the the first century AD, we were surprised to  find  some flint-tempered pottery  in the earliest layers which  might be evidence of a settlement three thousand years older than expected.

Several sherds joined to form part of a round bodied vessel, decorated by smoothing and polishing the outer surface of the clay. Traces of soot on the surface suggest the sherds are from a cooking pot likely to date to around 3500 BC, in the Neolithic period.

Image of Early Neolithic pottery from Perry Wood
Early Neolithic pottery from Perry Wood

Neolithic people had cleared the ancient forests where their ancestors had hunted wild animals and grew crops like wheat on the cleared land. The farmers settled near their fields making the first distinctive pottery cooking and storage vessels which archaeologists use, along with the remains of the pits and ditches they dug, to recognise the settlements of Neolithic people.

The finds from the small excavation at Perry Wood suggest that there may be more evidence for Neolithic settlement in the area which could be explored in further archaeological excavation.

What have we been doing at Perry Wood?

Young Archaeologists excavating
Canterbury young archaeologists at work on the southern ditch

In the last couple of months we have been doing some more exploratory excavation and survey work on Windmill Hill at Perry Wood, near Selling.

With the help of volunteers from the local community, students from the University of Kent and Canterbury Young Archaeologists we are building on the work we did with the Perry Wood Archaeology Project between 2009 and 2010.

You can read the report for that work here

More sections have been excavated through the rectangular earthwork on the hill. This time we’re hoping for some proper dating evidence!

ditch profile viewed from the west
Ditch profile at the north east of the enclosure viewed from the west

We’re also looking for the remains of that Windmill.

We’ve got two trenches open in the windmill area but nothing conclusive yet!

We have a few more days of digging planned so hope there will be more news soon…