Have you ever wondered how archaeologists go about their day to day jobs when the TV cameras aren’t rolling? Well this is your chance to find out…
Wessex Archaeology has been commissioned by Valley of Visions to excavate some test pits to find clues to the hidden history of the Bishop’s Palace, Halling, Kent, and on Saturday 19th June 2010, 10 am till 4 pm, we are hosting an open day. View a map of the location.

Bishops Palace Halling

The ruined walls and mysterious mounds at the Bishop’s Palace are tantalising clues to a fascinating past stretching back for at least 1000 years. Today, the Bishop’s Palace site is part of an exciting Valley of Visions project to create a modern community space reflecting the historic roots of Halling. The first mention of the name ‘Halling’ is in an 8th century charter and it is thought to mean ‘hall dwellers.’ The Bishop’s Palace itself may well have been built by Gundulph in 1077 but the ruins you can see today are probably slightly later, belonging to the 12th century. The hall was the largest building but there was also a gate house and a chapel, all of which stood inside a stone wall. The area is now covered by trees, ground ivy and modern rubbish. Some of the original hall survives because it marked the boundary of the churchyard. The splayed windows you can see in the photograph here date to the 13th century.

13th Century Splayed Windows

The last Bishop to live in the palace left in 1535 and the land was then leased to farming tenants. The buildings soon fell into disrepair and in 1795 the site became the Parish workhouse. The imposing tram embankment was built to service the nearby cement works in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The embankment is one of the fast disappearing reminders of what was once a thriving industry.
Wessex Archaeology will be digging test pits and investigating the mounds within the site.  Some mounds may be modern rubble and can be removed; others may be medieval structures.  We hope to find the lost chapel and the path which led down to the river. The results of this work will further our understanding of the Bishop’s Palace and will be used to guide the visual appearance and landscape design of the community space.
Come along and see for yourself what we find. Tours start at 10 am, and will be every half hour until 4 pm. No need to book in advance, it’s suitable for all ages, although stout foot ware is essential. Contact us on 01622 739381 to find out more.
Look forward to seeing you then!