27th January 2022:

A new book by Oxford Archaeology paints a picture of life on the edge of the Thames Estuary from early prehistory to the 20th century

Archaeological investigations at DP World London Gateway Port and Logistics Park near Stanford-le-Hope in Essex and on the site of a wildlife habitat on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent uncovered archaeological remains that show how the area has attracted settlers, farmers and traders since prehistory.

People came to the marshes in Mesolithic and Neolithic times, perhaps on a seasonal basis, to hunt, and gather plants and seafood. In the late Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods, people trapped seawater to extract salt, a valuable commodity used for food preservation. In the medieval period, the marshland offered unrivalled pasture for the sheep and cattle belonging to upland farms on the gravel terraces. Over time, the marshes were drained to increase the pasture and the value of the farming estates. The creeks that snaked through the marshes were a means of communication and trade. A timber wharf, built in the 16th century, was recorded on the edge of one such creek. In modern times, the sparsely populated area proved an ideal location for the establishment of oil refineries and other industries. The area has also inspired artists, writers and filmmakers.

The book joins two others – London Gateway: Maritime Archaeology in the Thames Estuary and London Gateway: Iron Age and Roman Salt Making in the Thames Estuary – that explore the archaeology and heritage of the London Gateway site.

All the volumes in the series, including the latest book, are available to buy from Oxbow Books. Click here for details.

The specialist reports on finds and environmental evidence are free to download from OA’s digital library. Click here to access the digital volume.

(Banner photo: Recording a 17th century sea wall)