KDK Archaeology Projects


A few examples of some of the projects we have undertaken. More can be found on our Gallery page



The old palace lodge hotel, dunstable, bedfordshire


Previous work carried out at the Old Palace Lodge Hotel had identified the potential for archaeological remains to be present within the footprint of a proposed extension to the hotel. The area was subject to a Strip, Map and Sample excavation which revealed a surprisingly high density of archaeological features, including several ditches, a pit complex and a solitary burial. Initial analysis of the skeleton suggests she was an older woman who was buried in a prone (face down) position, but she was also interred with a small pot by her left hand. The contents of the pot have been recovered and will be analysed in due course. The pottery from the site indicates that it was in use during the late first to mid second century, and possibly earlier. The location of the features is towards the eastern limit of the known Roman archaeology in Dunstable, though more work is proposed on the site which may help to confirm this.


The Lock keeper's cottage island, GSK, ware, hertfordshire


Prior to the installation of a mini hydro-electric turbine by GlaxoSmithKline in Ware, KDK undertook a programme of archaeological trial trenching across the Lock Keeper's Cottage Island. Well preserved timbers were present in one of the trenches, which resulted in further investigation through geophysics, open area excavation and a programme of geo-archaeological bore hole testing. The excavation exposed a timber caissoned bridge abutment or quayside, and the core sampling revealed a probable gravel surface over 40m in length, and the northern edge of the Roman river channel. Subsequent carbon dating of the timbers and analysis of pottery from a layer immediately overlying the gravel suggested the structure was probably built in the early second century. This ties-in well with other excavations at GSK which have demonstrated that activity at the Roman settlement there peaked in the mid second to mid third century. The publication report text will be submitted soon and will hopefully appear in a forthcoming edition of Britannia.


    RSPB Reserve, Sandy, Bedfordshire


      Torrington House
      In advance of the installation of a wind turbine at the RSPB Reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire, KDK monitored 1.2km of cable trenching and carried out a Strip, Map and Record excavation of the turbine base, access road and contractors' compound. A probable Iron Age round house was exposed, consisting of more than 20 post holes in a 16m diameter circle with a clearly visible central hearth. A smaller later enclosure was also recorded along with a wide, shallow ditch, a gully and a pit. Unfortunately, a few of the post holes had been destroyed by rabbits burrowing into the loose sandy natural geology, and the size and position of the compound meant that not all of the post holes were exposed. However, the work that KDK undertook resulted in the recording of a significant feature within this prehistoric landscape. The publication report will be available in due course.


    The Lord Leycester Hotel, Warwick


      priory Gate
      Prior to the redevelopment of the Lord Leycester Hotel in Warwick, KDK carried out a programme of trial trenching in the car park. Previous geophysics had identified the presence of possible structural features, and the trenches were targeted to help resolve some of the questions raised from that data. The principal feature exposed was a wall of dressed limestone at least a meter in height. It coincided with the geophysics plot and therefore it is likely to extend across the whole site. The hotel is situated in the centre of Warwick, adjacent to St Mary's church, which was founded on the site in 1123, and whilst no definitive dating of the wall was possible, it is made of the same stone, and constructed in the same way as some of the known medieval structures in the immediate location.



    P5 Building, GSK, Ware, Hertfordshire


      priory Gate
      As part of on-going redevelopment of the GlaxoSmithKline complex in Ware, buildings on the northern edge of the site, that are no longer fit for purpose, are being demolished to make way for modern facilities. As Roman Ermine Street transects the site there is a considerable amount of archaeology present, in some areas. The latest phase of this programme involves the demolition of the western half of P5 Building. KDK carried out an open area excavation over the summer of 2015, of the late Roman cemetery site that lay beneath. At least 26 graves were identified, with 22 containing human remains. All of the burials were supine, with 20 aligned roughly east-west, and two north-south. Several had evidence of a coffin, most were adult, but the post-excavation analysis was restricted by the poor condition of some of the bones. KDK staff have been working with GSK since 2009 and been involved in several significant excavations on the site. We are currently producing a monograph that encompasses those projects and others from the 1970s and 80s. The P5 Building publication report will form part of that monograph.



    Slapton Lock Marina, Slapton, bedfordshire


      priory Gate
      Planning for a 180 berth marina at Slapton Lock in Bedfordshire has been approved, and KDK carried out a field evaluation of the site. Eight 50m trenches were laid out with GPS survey equipment then excavated. Several features where recorded including five shallow ditches, a gully and a deposit. The artefacts recovered would suggest that the site was in use throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. It is probable that many of the ditches were constructed for drainage as the land has been used historically for agricultural purposes. Several features could also be related to the building of the Grand Union canal in the 1790s as it runs along the southern side of the site.



    church of st mary the virgin, eaton bray, bedfordshire


      priory Gate
      A proposed extension adjacent to the tower of the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Eaton Bray required a Strip, Map and Sample excavation of the footprint of the development. Human remains were identified by one of KDK's Osteoarchaeologists from a high stratigraphic level, and subsequently throughout the 1.2m deep excavation. Within an area of approximately 5m x 5m, a total of 22 burials or part burials were recorded. Whilst most were adults, some were juveniles or infants. Along with the burials, a stone wall was also recorded overlying some of the bones. It is likely that this formed an earlier part of the church but it is unclear exactly which part. Once some of the bones are carbon dated we will have a better idea of the date of the wall.



    The five knolls, dunstable downs, Bedfordshire


    KDK Archaeology carried out a programme of archaeological works at Five Knolls, Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire, during the repair of erosion scars to the burial mounds. Prior to the commencement of the repair work, a topographical survey was carried out to record the landscape in general, and more specifically to identify the extent of the erosion to the mounds. For the repairs, the scars were squared off to provide a stable edge to support the chalk and topsoil infill, though the minimum amount of material was removed in order to achieve this. The preparation of the scars revealed that relatively little damage had occurred to the body of the mounds, and that some previous 20th century repairs had endured fairly well.  The extent of previous excavations was apparent in some of the barrows, as the material that apparently formed the substantive body of the barrows was a mixture of nodular chalk and topsoil.




    The priory wall, dunstable, bedfordshire


      priory Gate
      The medieval town of Dunstable was established by Henry I as a royal borough with a royal residence c.1108 and was closely followed by the foundation of a school and the priory.  Of the priory only some of the original church, the building now known as Priory House and the gateway and associated wall have survived. A building recording programme was undertaken of the gateway and wall in 2013 in order to better understand its structural history. The wall, like the other priory buildings, had originally been built of locally derived Totternhoe clunch with little remaining other than the gateway by the early 18th century.
      The evidence from the building fabric suggests the wall was rebuilt in the mid-late 19th century using the remaining Totternhoe Stone, limestone predominantly from Weldon and Clipsham, flint and -used brick. Later repairs and rebuilding programmes were evident in the use of Bathstone, cement based mortars and a range of brick types from the late 19th century onwards.  Further investigations may also help to clarify how the gatehouse functioned; whether as a school, prison or simple porter’s lodge.



    St Chad's, Woburn Road, marston moretaine, bedfordshire


      Manor Farm
      KDK Archaeology Ltd undertook an evaluation at St Chad’s, 1 Woburn Road, Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire. As significant archaeology was present an immediate second stage, open area excavation was required within the footprint of the proposed development. Two boundary ditches, one almost 4m wide, and several pits were recorded. Pottery was recovered from most features and indicated that activity on the site was relatively short-lived between the early to mid-12th century to the early to mid-13th century. The site lies adjacent to a medieval moated site of uncertain date, though is thought to have been replaced in the 14th century by Moreteyne Manor, another moated site immediately north of St Chads.




      Bloors Place was the subject of historic building appraisal undertaken at the request of the owners. It is a late 15th century Wealden hall house with a stone range added to the rear in the early 16th century, probably by Christopher Bloor, whose reputation as a ghost is widespread in the locality. The house came indirectly into the ownership of the Earls of Thanet through Bloor’s daughter, Olympia, who was the first wife of John Tufton, father of the first Earl of Thanet. Bloors Place was reduced in both size and status to a farmhouse in later years, losing some of the east end of the north range and the southern end of the stone range by c.1800. Despite 18th and 19th century alterations, the interior of the building retains many early features and delightful wall paintings of fairy tale scenes from the 1950s in one of the bedrooms. 


    for further help and advice contacT Karin kaye MCIfA:

    Telephone: 01525 385443
    Email: office@kdkarchaeology.co.uk


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