20th January 2022

The results of the excavation and analysis of the archaeology on the A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling Scheme in Kent have been published in a new Oxford Archaeology monograph

The volume, The Castle Hill Brickworks and Somerhill Estate, explores the well-preserved remains of a 19th-century rural estate brickworks, very few examples of which still survive. The brickworks were established by 1833 within the grounds of the Somerhill Estate, and continued to produce bricks, tiles and drains for the estate and the local area until the 1930s.

The excavated remains included three kilns, six drying sheds, a workshop and two pugmills, together with a cottage, office, clay pits and ponds, and provide the most complete picture of a rural brickworks that has been published from anywhere in the south-east of England.

Construction of the road necessitated the removal of Burgess Hill Farm, one of the post-medieval farms attached to the estate. Buildings were recorded before their demolition, and trenches were excavated to characterise the below-ground remains.

Both the brickworks and the farm were situated alongside the Tonbridge to Hastings road (later the A21), and between them a turnpike milepost was found in situ, and the remains of the 17th/18th-century road were preserved at a passing place on the slope up to Castle Hill, where timber for the brickworks was grown.

The book, priced at £15, is available from Oxbow Books.