Digging deep to find out more about site’s link to the skies


11 May 2023

Latest archaeological finds from a major road scheme in Essex reveal links to the site’s aviation past.

Digging deep to find out more about site’s link to the skies

Here in the southeast, we’re lucky to have loads of amazing heritage both above and below the ground that not only tells the story of our region, but sometimes also how transport has evolved.  

One such site is Maylands Aerodrome. Once home to Hillman’s Airways, a pioneer of package holidays, the site in Essex will soon be used for transport once again, but this time very much on the ground.

Archaeologists have been busy on our site at M25 junction 28, where we’re working to improve the link between the M25 anticlockwise and A12 eastbound, to find out more about the Aerodrome and what else might be hidden below the ground.

Zach, project manager for the scheme, explains more: “Last year, local historical and archaeology groups were invited to site to learn more about its history and talk to the team, as well as the Chairman of the RAF Hornchurch Historical Trust.

“We’re delighted to have now taken this a step further and handed the artefacts linked to the Aerodrome – including glass bottles and containers – to the RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre to create a new display celebrating Maylands.

Local historical and archaeology groups visiting site
Artefacts linked to the Aerodrome being handed over to the RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre
"By taking this considerate approach to our work today, we’re able to preserve the work of the engineers and pioneers of the past."
Zach, M25 junction 28 project manager

It’s not just recent history, the team uncovered what is believed to be a 7,000-year-old axe head or “adze” from the Mesolithic period. 

You can find out more about our work to improve this busy junction on the scheme webpage.