Dene Holes found in Rainham, Kent

A number of 'Dene Holes' have been discovered in different locations in the Rainham area. Their true origins are not known, but there is speculation that they may have been chalk mines, underground storage for grain or for shelter from Danish invaders, hence 'Dane holes'. The basic design consists of a narrow shaft cut straight down until it widens into a larger chamber. Their age is uncertain, but some were still being dug around a hundred years ago, while some apparently show marks indicating that they were dug with picks made of bone, supporting the view that in some cases their origin may pre-date the Romans.


A dene hole was discovered in Twydall Lane in 1931 by Mr Harlow. He excavated the site and produced plan of the dene hole shown here. Niches were found at points A and B which were about 9 feet in height but not reaching the surface. These shafts were blackened with smoke so it may be that they were chimneys for torches or fires.

There is still a dene hole that you can see at Capstone Country Park near Hempstead.

In 1980, several dene holes were discovered during the construction of the Platters Farm estate off Marshall Road. The pictures show the dene hole at the junction of The Goldings and The Platters. This was excavated by the builders and refilled prior to construction of the houses, but after the road had been built.

Dene Hole Photo Rainham 1980

Photo of Dene Hole Rainham 1980

Photo of Dene Hole Rainham 1980
Dene Hole discovered in Rainham Kent, July 1980 Trench that discovered Dene hole running parallel to road Dene Hole After Excavation
The same Dene Hole location
The Goldings/Platters junction facing towards Marshall Road

See the following links for more information.

Dene Holes on Wikipedia

Details of Dene Holes from "Off The Beaten Track-A Short History of Bredhurst, Wigmore and Hempstead" by Geoffrey Hutton. Published by Meresborough Books 1993, available from Rainham Bookshop.


+1 #1 Peter Adams 2013-04-14 19:09
As a teenager in the early sixties I remember a Dene hole appearing on the property of 9 South Bush Lane, Rainham. The property went from South Bush throught to Spade lane and the hole was close to the road at Spade Lane. The property was worked by Fred Chapman and his family. I was friends with Colin Chapman and remember putting a Cherry pickers ladder down the hole and going down to look. I remember 2 chambers opposite each other and each chamber had a double domed roof. It was hard going as so much dirt had collapsed down the hole, and at the top it looked like there may have been 10 feet of dirt covering the hole before the surface collapsed. Having gone our seperate ways leaving school and subsequently moving to Australia in 1970 I have no knowledge of what became of the hole. It was probably filled in but after all these years I still think I could plot where it was?

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