Early History

What first crossed the great land bridge with Europe in pre-glacial times? Who would believe that woolly mammoths and even elephants grazed beside the river, yet their bones are still found here to tell their story? The first Palaeolithic groups who explored the Darent left evidence of their hunting: their hand axes are still found today. Stone Age communities explored the land beside the river right up to Westerham. The Romans built their villas every two miles along the river’s banks. Anglo- Saxons fought Danish raiders across its ford. Darent tells the stories and the effects these early settlers left on the area – a fascinating insight into the region’s early history.

The ichthyosaur swimming above the coccoliths in the deep ocean. The creation of the Wealden Dome as land rose out of the sea. The emergence of the North Downs, Gault clay and Greensand Ridge due to weather erosion. The proto-Darent and the Medway rivers. Woolly mammoths and straight-tusked elephants cross the European land-bridge. Waves of hunter-gathers include Neanderthals, Mesolithic man, Neolithic men, the Bell Beaker people, Iron Age settlers with their hill-forts at Squerreyes and Oldbury Hill. The last of the Belgae and the first of the Romans include the example of Lullingstone villa and the mystery of the deserted Roman villas. Further historic facts include, Hengist & Horsa and Saxon rule across Kent,  Saxon settlements and Saxon cemeteries (The Darenth Bowl), the arrival of Viking raiders  Gavelkind. Dene Holes. This chapter also includes sections on the origins of pub signs, the birth of the curfew, the reason for the Darent mummers and the stories surrounding the origins of the Men of Kent.