Trosley Family Open Day

Following the success of SWAG’s archaeological family digs and exhibitions at Shorne Country Park, we were invited by the Kent County Council Parks’ Manager to manage a similar event at Trosley Country Park. The event was held on the 17th June last year.

In February 2023, SWAG conducted a walkover survey of an area within Trosley Country Park that had been used during WWII as an Officer training camp. It was known that foundations of various building and slit trenches remain in the woods adjacent to the main path.

A hut base (Ablution Block) was chosen as suitable for a family day activity, as it was easily accessible from the main path and suitable for children to try out their archaeological skills. On the 17th June SWAG volunteers (JT, Mary and co.) cleared a path trough the undergrowth and set up shop alongside the path to lure people in.

A steady stream of adults and children ventured to take part. Some of the children insisted on staying all day! Others were bribed away with promises of ice cream etc. but returned later to continue digging, metal detecting, brushing and just getting dirty. All the finds were enthusiastically brought to team members for examination and identification by
excited children. The finds included a twisted wire cable, drainpipe from a sink, a quick release bolt, wire reinforced glass, a dog tag, lead shot from a shotgun cartridge and electrical insulators.

For the dig volunteers, there wasn’t much time to rest or have lunch as they were continually called upon to equip and instruct new arrivals, answer questions and congratulate those who had found items of interest. It was exhausting but rewarding work. By the end of the day the majority of the hut base had been uncovered and it was possible to see where the sinks, partitions, shower cubicles and drainage channels had been. There was no provision for toilets and it is probable these were located in a separate building, for hygiene reasons.

The children worked hard to clear away 70+ years of accumulated woodland and demolition detritus to uncover the remains of the shower cubicles. Once cleared, it was possible to see square indentations where a sink support would have been secured to the concrete floor and a section of the water gully used to take waste water from the sinks to a common drain.

A measure of the day’s success was that a number of children insisted in coming to Shorne Woods Country Park for their Family Fun Days, where SWAG set up other archaeological fun for them to try.

Family Fun Days are held at Shorne throughout the year. Please keep and eye on this website for future dates. The next one is on February 15th, during the school holidays. We’d love to welcome you and your family.

(Don Blackburn)

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