Historic and Cultural Heritage
Millennia of human activity have created an outstanding cultural inheritance. There are the remains of Neolithic megalithic monuments, Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age hill-forts, Roman villas and towns, medieval villages focused on their churches; post-medieval stately homes with their parks and gardens and historic defence structures from Norman times to the twentieth century.
Fields of varying shapes and sizes and ancient wood-banks and hedges, set within networks of droveways and sunken lanes have produced a rich historic mosaic, which is the rural landscape of today. Architectural distinctiveness is ever present in the scattered farmsteads and oasthouses, barns and other agricultural buildings, churches and country houses. The diverse range of local materials used, which includes flint, chalk ragstone, timber and tile, contributes to the character and texture of the countryside.
The Kent Downs AONB is a special place whose character has evolved from centuries of human activity working within the natural and physical characteristics of the land. Its essence is a tapestry of many different land uses and natural processes that continue to work on the scale of human, historical and geological time. Although there is great local diversity across the Kent Downs, the following features are those that unify the whole AONB and provide it with its own 'sense of place' More details of the special characteristics of the Kent Downs can be found in the Management Plan.
The biggest threats to the AONB’s historic and cultural heritage are from a general lack of awareness and understanding of the importance of these many sites and features. Other issues include the lack of sensitive management, and loss or erosion of features, character and settings through development.