Cairnfield (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – TQ 702 590
Archaeology & History
In recent years it seems that very little has been written about this seemingly lost site, long since destroyed by the self-righteous advance of the Industrialists. It seems to have been an important place, as there were many cremated remains here in more than a dozen individual burial urns, some with flints deposited in them. The site was first described in a meeting of members of the Society of Antiquaries in 1898 by a Mr Frederick James. He talked about the site and some brief digging work around the area, thus:
“The site of the urnfield is on land belonging to Mr William Wigan, of Clare House, East Malling, and it was owing to his kind permission and active cooperation that I was enabled to visit the spot, which is on a small plateau above the River Medway, 350 yards to the southwest of New Hythe church, and between the river and the road leading from Rochester to Town Malling…
“The immediate neighbourhood…has been from time to time highly productive of archaeological remains dating from the Palaeolithic times and extended down to the Roman occupation… (But at) the Larkfield urnfield, the first indication that was afforded of the uses to which the area had been put in Romano-British times was the accidental discovery, whilst planting fruit trees, of some fragments of pottery (including portion of a Samian patera) found at the point marked A on the plan. A flat tile was found covering the fragments.”
Much more was found hereby, with the majority of the finds being “a group of urns containing cremated interments found in the urn-pits.” Although James (1898) described them as dating from the Romano-British period, from his description and illustrations it would seem that the remains here were probably of an earlier date, perhaps Iron- or even Bronze Age. But we may never know for sure.
- James, Frederick, “Discovery of a Romano-British Urnfield at Larkfield, near Maidstone,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 17:1, 1898.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian