ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE discovered a Neolithic house - one of the oldest built in England - on the line of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link near Sandling in Kent.
Remains of the house are thought to date back between 4,000 and 6,000 years.
This week archaeologists are rushing to complete excavation and recording of the site which has to be released to contractor Eurolink Joint Venture for construction of the North Downs Tunnel.
All that is left of the house is a regular pattern of post holes in the top of the chalk subsoil, showing the layout of a Long House with a main room and aisles, and a depression left by a hearth.
The marks were revealed during painstaking hand excavation after turf was stripped for the dig, which is being carried out by Oxford Archaeological Unit and the Museum of London.
It is one of several investigations on the CTRL route being organised by project manager Rail Link Engineering and financed as part of the new railway.
The house is the centrepiece of a prolific site on the southern face of Blue Bell Hill which includes post hole structures and pits left from settlements in the period 700BC to 43AD. A few metres down the slope, the relatively modern Pilgrims Way passes by en route to Canterbury.
Nigel Jeffries of OAU said the Neolithic house is the first found in Kent and only the 15th in England (see page 14).