The history of The Meads Community Woodland

Canterbury Archaeological Trust excavations in the nearby Jenny Wren and Sonora Estate area in 2008 revealed evidence for Neolithic, Bronze Age and Anglo-Saxon activity, including a group of Beaker period burials, a Bronze Age ring-ditch (almost certainly the remains of a round barrow) and an extensive Anglo-Saxon cemetery. An aerial photograph showed a cropmark of a sizable ring-ditch was in fact a large circular enclosure ditch of a henge. Measuring some 30m in diameter, the enclosure encompassed several features in its interior, the most striking of which were two concentric groups of post-holes situated at the centre. Probably dating to the late Neolithic period (3,000 to 4,800 years ago), this henge is the first to be confirmed and excavated in the Swale area.

Pastureland and orchards surrounded the woodland up to 300 years ago and when brickworks began operating nearby the surface level reduced. London ash would have been brought in and raised the surface in the C20. The majority of the woodland, as we see it today, was planted in the late 1990’s with a remaining older hedge and Poplar wind shelter.

You can download the leaflet ‘The Mysteries of The Meads Community Woodland’ here

Do you have a memory about The Meads? Submit here!

Archaeological findings at The Meads Community Woodland

During the construction of the Sonora Fields housing estate extensive archaeological work was undertaken. This revealed a considerable number of Anglo-Saxon graves, a Neolithic wooden henge, Bronze Age barrows and Roman earthworks. Although no excavations were made on the site of the community woodland it would not be an unreasonable assumption that there is a wealth of archaeological material at the woodland.


An illustration of the original Meads henge

Timeline of The Meads Community Woodland

The Meads Community Woodland and surrounding area has a rich landscape heritage. Further information here.

Click/touch the dates to move through time.

8300 BC

8300 BC

Circa 8300 to 4000 BC (Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age): Mesolithic hunter gatherers leave flint tools, including a large adze, at the site.

4000 BC

4000 BC

Circa 4000 to 2300 BC (Neolithic or New Stone Age): Neolithic farmers construct a circular ditched enclosure around an arrangement of large posts (today known as a ‘henge’), probably for ceremonial purposes.

2300 BC

2300 BC

Circa 2300 to 1500 BC (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age): The site becomes a Bronze Age cemetery, with some people being buried alongside Beaker pottery, whilst others are buried under ditched round barrows.

1800 BC

1800 BC

Circa 1800 to 1500 BC (Middle Bronze Age): The use of the Meads as a place of burial continued. A number of round barrows (burial mounds) were constructed.

1500 BC

1500 BC

Circa 1500 BC to AD 43 (Late Bronze Age and Iron Age): The construction, use and re-use of most monuments like henge and round barrows seems to have ceased. This area of The Meads may have become either arable land or pasture by this period.

AD 43

AD 43

AD 43 to AD 400 (Roman): The use of the Meads as open farmland seems to have continued, although very little evidence from this era has been found.

AD 400

AD 400

AD 400 to AD 700 (Early Anglo-Saxon): During the early Anglo-Saxon period, the site again becomes a cemetery, with hundreds of people being buried close to one of the Bronze Age barrows. Most are buried fully clothed and accompanied by a range of grave goods, although a few are cremated and their remains buried in pottery urns.



1800's: Large ares of the Meads were quarried for brick earth for the nearby brickworks.



2008: Canterbury Archaeological Trust carries out excavations ahead of the building work, locating a Bronze Age barrow and other prehistoric remains, plus 228 early Anglo-Saxon burials.



2012: Further excavation by CAT leads to the discovery of the henge and other prehistoric features, plus further Anglo-Saxon graves.



2016: Community build of the replica henge over 4 days in October 2016, finished over a day in November 2016. Nearly 200 local people of all ages carve, dig and raise the woodhenge in the adjacent Meads Community Woodland.

Wildlife at The Meads Community Woodland

The Meads Community Woodland is a new habitat and there are very few records available for the site, therefore, it is crucially important to ensure that all records that are made at the site are sent to the appropriate recording group and/or the Kent and Medway Biological Records Centre.

Birds include resident magpie, wren, blackcap, dunnock, green woodpecker and sparrowhawk. Mammals include dormouse, rabbit. Reptiles include slow-worm, viviparious lizard. But it is the invertebrates that really make the woodland with butterflies, moths, dragonflies and beetles in the more open areas.

The late 1990’s plantings of indigenous trees dominate and the autumn colours of wild cherry and guelder-rose are impressive. The old hedgerow provides hidden nesting sites and many invertebrates in the dense ivy, whilst the tall row of Poplars give good perching points for raptors.

Submit sightings from The Meads Community Woodland Download Management Plan

Cinnabar Moth


Goat Willow catkins

Rowan berries

Common Hogweed

Common Hogweed

Green Woodpecker


Slow worm


  1. Slow-Worm (Anguilis fragilis)
  2. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
  3. Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
  4. Eurasian)Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
  5. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
  6. Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)


  1. Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
  2. Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)
  3. Wayfaring-tree (Viburnum lantana)
  4. Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus)
  5. Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
  6. Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

Map of The Meads Community Woodland

Directions & getting there

The Meads Community Woodland is bounded by the London?Sittingbourne railway on the SW and SE, and the B2006 to the NE.

Parking is best at The Jenny Wren Pub, Staplehurst Rd,  Sittingbourne ME10 5TA, then cross the busy B2006 (very carefully), or at the end of Woollett Rd, ME10 1PZ and walk through the railway arch.

Activities in The Meads Community Woodland

This woodland is a wonderful getaway from the surrounding busy urban life. There are paths criss-crossing from each open area, as well as a path around the boundary. A circuit walk could be 15 to 20mins.

And the community build replica woodhenge is a perfect meeting place.

Wildlife watching

Wildlife Watching

Woodlands are full of wildlife but by slowing down, keeping still and quiet it is possible to see or hear these woodland inhabitants.

Cromer’s Wood Gorham & Admiral’s Wood Hucking Estate Perry Wood Rose Hill The Meads Community Woodland

Butterfly counting

Wildlife Watching

Butterflies can be seen flying spring, summer and autumn. Why not join in with the Big Butterfly Count in the summer.

Gorham & Admiral’s Wood Cromer’s Wood Hucking Estate The Meads Community Woodland Perry Wood

Sound maps

Using senses

Sound maps can help tune in to the world around us. Our ancestors would have used the sounds to navigate the landscape.

Rose Hill Perry Wood Cromer’s Wood Gorham & Admiral’s Wood The Meads Community Woodland Hucking Estate

Kent Woodland Employment Scheme

KWES is a woodland management charity dedicated to providing meaningful, paid apprenticeships to people who find it difficult to get a job. We principally seek to recruit suitable candidates who are ex-offenders, ex-Services and young people who have little or no qualifications.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust

CAT undertake excavations, research, publication and the presentation of the results of its work to the public. Excavated The Meads in 2008 and 2013.

Andrew Richardson

Outreach and Archives Manager

CSI Sittingbourne

Set up to help conserve some of the 2500 archaeological objects recovered from 229 graves of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery site at The Meads. It is the one of the first times that public volunteers have been used to conserve archaeological objects.

Dana Goodburn-Brown

Professional Conservator

Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership

Part of a network of Countryside Management Partnerships throughout Kent; it is supported by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council and Maidstone Borough Council and is accommodated by the AONB Unit.

Sally Evans

Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership Manager