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During the Ice Age, the landscape of Kent was very different than it is today. The ice sheet stretched as far south as the Thames Valley and Kent was connected by a land bridge to the continent. Nomadic Stone Age hunters were able to roam freely between Kent and France.
Around 6000 BC, the Ice sheet melted and the land bridge was lost for ever, the only evidence of itís existence is the area known as ĎDogger Bankí and the fact that there is a continuous geology between Kent and France. The physical shape of Kent was of advantage to the invader from the continental mainland, with wide estuaries having deep access to the rich lands of the east and north Kent and the forests of oak, elm, alder and lime
The Kingdom of Kent was surrounded by water, the sea to the north, east and south, and the Medway to the west. Water has played a key role in the shaping of the county, with the sea level rising 10 metres in last 5000 years, there are coastal areas that have been totally lost to the sea, like parts around Reculver. However, other areas have suffered from silting and the collection of shingle creating new land-masses which have pushed the sea further away. Todayís ordinance survey map clearly show some of the changes, for instance, the Saxon Shore Way is marked, but is now several miles from the sea in places. Romney Marsh is a fine example of the sea building up shingle, coupled with manís intervention with the construction of sea walls and drainage.
The River Wantsum separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland, the river was reported as being 3 furlongs over and fordable only in two places, but by 1550 the Isle was more a peninsula as the river became silted up.
The Isle of Sheppey is gradually being eroded, between the years 1865 and 1906 it has lost 103 acres, however, the River Swale is also getting smaller.
Major coastal floods and storms have shaped the county over the centuries changing the courses of rivers, silting up important coastal ports, making and claiming land.
During the Neolithic period, Kent sees the beginnings of agriculture and man begins to shape the land to suit his needs. The heavily forested areas are slowly cleared and man begins to farm and populate these areas.
Kentís many rivers have also played their part in shaping the county, not only useful for the invader to make his attack, but they were used to ferry goods. As roads were not easy travelling for centuries, the river was a useful alternative. As the river traffic grew, so did settlements along itís route.
As during the 19th century with the coming of the railways, this also encouraged the growth of settlements and the beginnings of commuting. Electrification of the railway encouraged more commuter traffic, along with the car.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the growth of Kent and London became an issue with the possibility of the two joining together. This led to the creation of the Green Belt, an area not to be developed and to maintain the division of the town and the country.
Kent was populated by man at least from c 200,000 years ago. Fragmants of early man, the forerunner of modern man, were found at Swanscombe in 1935 and in 1955.
The Stone Age from c 500,000 to 10,000 BC and the Mesolithic Age from c 10,000 to 4,000 BC with the nomadic hunters continued to maintain Kentís environment using rock shelters or caves like those on Oldbury Hill near Ightham.
New Stone Age period of c 4000 to 2000 BC brought the migration of Neolithic farmers to the rich lands of Kent. They introduced the first field systems, began to settle in permanent homesteads and build their megaliths.