In a David and Goliath battle between four test pits and an infrastructure behemoth, the Maidstone office hosted an open day at the Bishops Palace in Halling, going head to head with a similar open day on the East Kent access road. Great minds think alike, and the fact that the open days fell neatly between football fixtures (Saturday 21st June) is probably no coincidence.
Directed by Michelle Collings and managed by Brendon Wilkins, the Rochester team were commissioned by Valley of Visions to excavate test pits prior to landscaping works intended to renovate this valued community amenity. The hope was to find evidence for a lost chapel associated with the palace – known from early maps but probably destroyed by later 19th century industrial cement workings. With flyers going home with every school child and a noticeable buzz around the village, the pressure was on to find something worthy of an open day.
The event was a great success. Michelle Collings, Mark Williams and Helen Glass were all on hand to explain to visitors why we were digging and what we had learned. The medieval chapel remained elusive, but we did find evidence for the reuse of the palace as a work house in the 17th century – a prince’s to pauper’s tale that fascinated our visitors, demonstrating that the later industrial phase might not have been as destructive as once presumed. As for David and Goliath, they’ve called this one a draw, and agreed to agree that no outreach and education job’s too big or too small.