ANGLO-SAXON HOUSES: SUNKEN FLOOR HUTS AND HALL DWELLINGS
The existence of a number of large and important Saxon cemetery sites in and around Dartford and the Darent Valley, illustrates the fact that North West Kent was well populated in Saxon times. Unfortunately, no remains of Saxon villages have been found close to Dartford. This is not really surprising as the early Saxons constructed their dwellings from natural materials (wood, turf and thatch) which leave little mark on the landscape.
Evidence from other English (Mucking, Essex; and West Stow, Suffolk) and Continental sites indicates that Dartfords Saxon population would have lived in semi-sunken huts known as Grubenhauser or Grubenhaus (singular). These dwellings were based on a hollowed-out rectangular pit with rounded corners dug into the chalk bedrock. Some of the huts may have been equipped with a wooden planked floor, which covered the hollow. The thatched roof, which covered this hollow, would have rested on a horizontal timber, or ridge pole, which ran between two post uprights. Each of the solid upright posts was set into a deep post-hole at either end of the hollow. A clay hearth in the hut provided a focus for cooking and heating.
Grubenhauser would have been grouped together in clusters within a fenced enclosure to form a small village settlement. Rubbish from the settlement would have been discarded in pits or middens away from the huts. Clay loomweights, spindlewhorls and other items associated with textile production are commonly found in Grubenhaus hollows suggesting that weaving was one of the more important activities practised in them.
Rectangular-shaped hall dwellings developed later in Saxon times with low side walls formed from planks, and a pair of timber crucks to support the roof structure. These hall dwellings probably functioned as single family farm-houses.
Smaller subsidiary sunken-floor dwellings were used for storage and craft activities.