Archaeologist keeps watchful eye over excavation

When carrying out excavations on Rochester Esplanade, we make arrangements for an archaeologist to attend the site in order to carry out an archaeological “watching brief” during any deep groundworks.

This is considered best practice because, while we know the area is made up of rubble from the medieval bridge, it is good to have someone with the relevant experience to watch the excavation in case anything unexpected pops up. For example, there was an archaeologist on site when we carried out trial hole investigations on the Esplanade that led to the discovery of the castle water gate.

Local archaeologist David Britchfield, of Ravelin Archaeological Services, is on site while we carry out deep excavations to create a culvert. He has previously worked with the Rochester Bridge Trust and has many years’ experience in archaeological fieldwork.

When it comes to carrying out a watching brief, the archaeologist monitors the excavation, identifying and recording various layers of material as they are removed. To begin with the excavation confirmed the presence of the rubble associated with the medieval bridge, which is part of the Trust’s history.

The watching brief could potentially get more interesting when the digging reaches the river foreshore level. This is the material the Esplanade was built on, and has the potential to produce interesting archaeological finds and deposits. Being an area that would have been flooded by river water and tides, there’s no guarantee we will find anything, but should anything interesting appear it’s good to know David is there to spot it.

Should anything unusual appear, work would temporarily pause while the discovery is assessed and recorded. If that happens, we’ll keep you updated. Meantime, it’s on with the dig.

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