The Bumps

28th November 2022

West Kent Community Diggers (WKCD) continue to work hard exploring and investigating the apex of Rusthall Common, opposite Dingley Dell, while their attention has been drawn to the adjacent area known as The Bumps…..what secrets does this area of Rusthall Common hold?

The Bumps is an open green space close to the current site. An interesting array of local ‘stories’ as to the origins of the Bumps has been heard by the WKCD team. The general local consensus points to the levelling of the area at various times during the early to mid 20th century. The most recent being in the 1960’s to clear the area for ‘kids to play football on’ – additional to this was the idea that during the clearance ‘lot’s of old things were found as well as evidence for a medieval hall’. However with no official archaeological record at the time this idea remains hearsay.

More recently a new narrative was suggested to the team pointing to the clearance work actually taking place just after WWII. It would seem that ‘local men, under the newly elected Labour Government were put to work on all sorts of civic projects across Tunbridge Wells and other parts of the country’ – the idea of much older activity was mooted, in this case ‘evidence for a prehistoric Barrow (burial mound)!’. Again it would seem no official records of such exist. However with its close proximity to the on going excavations nearby, prehistoric activity is clear.

Do you have any stories or pictures about this area that you’d be willing to share with us?

In 2019 a Geophysical survey was carried out on the ‘Bumps’ looking for evidence of the so called ‘Medieval Hall’. Though this was inconclusive, at the time, more recent analysis, in the context of a possible Neolithic Long Barrow, would seem more compelling. Though any such structure is almost certainly largely destroyed its footprint may well still survive below ground.

On the basis of photographic and geophysical evidence the team have secured permission from the Commons Conservators, who manage both Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells Commons, to open a series of small test pits across the bumps. We’ll update you on our findings as soon as we complete the test pit work.

As a community lead project we are always looking for new volunteers.

As a polite reminder WKCD are the only officially authorised group allowed to dig on the common. Metal detecting is strictly prohibited.

Nigel Stapple