You may have seen in the latest newsletter (no. 18) that we have finished work at Rochester Airport, at the site of the proposed Innovation Park Medway – innovationparkmedway.com. We were on site for four months from September 2021 to January 2022. It was a memorable site for so many reasons, especially for a group of now ex-trainees who were new to the world of commercial archaeology and winter digging!
The archaeological work was commissioned by Medway Council and monitored by WSP Cultural Heritage and Archaeology. We worked closely with FM Conway (the principal contractor on site), who provided support and plant to undertake the site topsoil strip, along with being responsible for our Health and Safety.
So why were we there?
The huge site, covering around 13 hectares, is due to be developed with the construction of ‘Innovation Park Medway’. The innovative business park is expected to become a magnet for high-value technology, engineering, manufacturing and knowledge-intensive businesses looking to grow in the south-east and join the 14,000 businesses already based in Medway.
Archaeological evaluation of the development area, conducted earlier in the year by Pre-Construct Archaeology, demonstrated the survival of archaeological remains. Any ground disturbance necessary for the development would have a direct impact on these remains, so it was important to investigate and record.
What do we already know?
Results of previous archaeological investigations have shown that the area was intensively exploited in the prehistoric period, in the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age period, and the late Iron Age to early Roman period. The current interpretation suggests that these findings may represent a settlement in the locality.
More recently, Rochester Airport was established in 1933. In 1934–5, aircraft manufacturers The Short Brothers took over the airfield and produced the Short Stirling, a four-engine heavy bomber. More about this period of the airport’s history in a later blog!
Catch up with future blogs, to find out more about this project.