Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Otterpool Campsite, Port Lympne Animal Park, Lympne

During late February to early March 2012 the Trust undertook an evaluation and subsequent excavation on a plot of land forming part of the Port Lympne Animal Park prior to the construction of a new camp-site. Despite the proximity of the site to the Roman road and the presence of a known Anglo-Saxon cemetery immediately to the south of the development area no remains relating to these periods were identified.Relatively extensive medieval remains were however identified extending along the road frontage; these were focussed within the excavation area formed by the expansion of evaluation trench 2, though remains were also identified within the area formed by evaluation trenches 1 and 4.
1. Site plan2. Pre-excavation, showing hollow-way and building3. Work in progress
The earliest feature on the site appeared to be a hollow-way that extended at roughly 90̊ from the line of Aldington Road, running from north-west to south-east across the site. Probably similar in date were a series of pits, with two excavated in evaluation trench 1 and four in the excavation area. All contained large quantities of medieval pottery, though only two appeared to form refuse pits, with one containing a semi-articulated animal burial. The remainder were cut as cess pits, later backfilled with domestic rubbish. Most were too deep to excavate fully with hand augering suggesting that some were up to 2m in depth.Following the backfilling of the pits two buildings were constructed in the area. The first lay within a soak-away that was cut adjacent to evaluation trench 1, only one corner of this structure was identified with the remainder lying outside of the excavation area.
4. Semi-articulated animal burial within pit5. Large refuse pit6. Excavation of a cess pit
The second structure, initially identified during the evaluation, lay within the main excavation. It comprised of a series linear trenches, each of which may have originally contained a substantial timber ground beam that would have supported the superstructure of the building. The initial structure covered an area some 8.25m wide by 13.25m long, its northern wall remained unidentified as it lay beyond the area of excavation. It was aligned on a similar north-west to south-east axis to the hollow-way; the western foundation trench appears to have cut through the centre of this feature indicating that it must have gone out of use during this phase. Following construction, the building appears to have been extended with the extension of the south wall and addition of a much less substantial beam to form the east wall of the new structure. The extension was much smaller than the main building covering an area only 3.35m wide by 4.8m long with the front of the building left open.The function of the building remains unclear though it was likely to have been agricultural in nature. Together with the earlier pits and the enclosure, these remains were probably associated with the Bellevue moated manor that lay on the adjacent side of Aldington Road. The area appears to have lain within a rectangular enclosure identified by the remnants of two ditches located in evaluation trenches 1 and 4.
7. Excavated beam slot8. Hollow way, showing post-medieval backfills
Following the demolition of the building the line of the hollow-way appears to have developed into a route into the site, with a second hollow-way clearly removing the top of the western wall foundation. This feature appears to have continued in use until the latter part of the eighteenth century. Following abandonment large quantities of Ragstone were used to infill the hollow-way with the area then reverting to open pasture.

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