Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 15:07 UK

Fields screened for ancient finds

Medieval gilded belt strap end
Installation work in October unearthed a gilded belt strap end

Archaeologists are studying fields in West Kent to record any historically significant finds before a water pipeline is installed in the area.

South East Water plans to lay a 2.7km (1.7m) mains pipe close to Mereworth Woods to boost supplies in the area.

It said the archaeologists would ensure any finds were not damaged by the installation work, which is expected to be carried out at the end of May.

A lost medieval landscape was exposed by workers laying pipes in October.

Artefacts unearthed at the site near Canterbury included Roman coins and steel knives, a small medieval structure, Iron Age pots, and a gilded belt strap end.

'Environmental protection'

Paul Clifford, engineering manager at South East Water, said: "Archaeologists are studying the fields north of Comp Corner, and when their investigations are completed we can begin the first phase of work and hope to start laying the new water pipes at the end of May.

"As the first phase is mainly within fields it should cause minimum disruption to local people, and only a temporary road closure in Comp Lane itself, to the west of Seven Mile Lane, is needed when the pipeline crosses the road."

Mr Clifford added: "The second phase of this new water main needs to be laid in the highway itself to ensure we reduce the risk of potentially damaging Mereworth Woods, which is classified as ancient woodland and so has environmental protection.

"However, this part of the scheme has been delayed until September to ensure we don't disrupt local farmers during the summer fruit growing season."

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