Southborough Valley Community Archaeology Project


Monday, 20 June 2016

Hops across the Channel

Archie Ologist ponders the big decision. 

With the final few days upon us to make up our minds on the referendum for the UK’s status in the EU, Archie Ologist finally got round to thinking about how the migration issue might affect him and his life. He had been so preoccupied by the new dig in the Southborough Valley that he had entirely lost touch with day to day reality. There had been much in the media about migration, among other things, and Archie needed to give the matter some thought. In his studies of the issue so far the trend of inward migration to this country seemed significant and it vexed him that our indigenous culture had been so radically affected by the ever continuing flow of different peoples into our green-and-pleasant, tea-at-four-o’clock, church-bells-and-cricket-on-village-greens Sceptred Isle.

In his mind he began to make a list of all the peoples who had invaded our shores. It seemed to stretch back a long way. By the time he had got to the Beaker people he knew there was still a long way to go but he gave up and began time travelling forward. Among others the Celts had come our way followed: Romans, Saxons, Danes, Belgics, Normans, Irish, Hugenots, Jews, Indians, Africans, Chinese, and any number of traders from Europe and beyond. Eventually he had to stop reading Wikipedia his brain hurt so much. In the early days many had come illegally without the proper documentation and they had traded freely without due regard to quotas and protocols. They had come for our rich resources of flint, tin, lead and salt, and in return brought their strange ways and customs including some fine pottery and jewellery. These migrations had continued, and he remembered in particular the Flemish who had come over here to turn our wool into cloth and thus helped make the country extremely prosperous. Queen Elizabeth the First had been so impressed that she came to Cranbrook herself where, in the Cloth Hall, she saw and praised these foreigners who were weaving the renowned Kentish broadcloth.

Archie decamped to the pub where he was once again reminded of the Flemish weavers who did so much to introduce hops and beer to the country. He fell asleep and had a drink-fuelled nightmare where he lived in a land with no evidence of hill forts, stone circles, villas, Viking and Saxon jewellery, cloth halls, gold hoards, olive oil jars, castles, and a succession of his favourite historic things and places. His weekends were filled with emptiness and there was nothing interesting to do. On waking he reflected that, at least in historical terms, archaeologists had done well out of Johnny foreigner. None of this helped him make up his mind but it gave him some pause for thought.

He logged on to the Voter Registration website. He felt he would be ready to make his mark when the time came. What was this? He had spent so long down holes and in the pub that he had missed the registration deadline and the extended deadline. It was all the fault of the EU. If it hadn’t existed, then there would be no need to vote and therefore he wouldn’t have missed the deadline. That settled it – he now knew which way he would have voted had he registered in time. Well, there was nothing for it now except a few more pints of Flemish comfort.

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