Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Darenth Park
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003126
Date first listed: 17-Jun-1980
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Dartford (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TQ 56585 72869
Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery.
Reasons for Designation
Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation. Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.
Despite some disturbance in the past, the Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery at Fleet-Downs survives well. There has been only limited excavation on the site and therefore retains potential for the further recovery of burials and grave goods. The site will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the cemetery, the material culture of those buried and the landscape in which the cemetery was constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 30 July 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery surviving as buried remains. It is situated on a south-west facing slope at Fleet-Downs near Dartford.
Partial excavation has identified at least five inhumation burials with associated grave goods. Scatters of bone in the excavation trenches have given a terminus indication of the cemetery’s extent. It is thought to date to the fifth century AD. The site has only been part-excavated and the cemetery is likely to contain further, as yet, unrecorded burials.
The cemetery was discovered in 1881. It was partially excavated in 1954, 1978 and 1988. The grave goods included a square headed brooch and fragments of one or possibly two bronze bowls. The most notable find was a fifth century glass bowl with a Chi-Rho symbol and abbreviated Latin inscription. In 1998 a watching brief for the laying of a water pipe recorded a further burial, together with a button brooch and pair of tweezers dating to the 5th century.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: KE 380
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Kent HER TQ 57 SE 29. NMR TQ 57 SE 29. PastScape 410756,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing