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This section contains the latest news from the Field Unit, as and when it occurs. New sections are added as and when to show the progress the Field Unit are making during the year.

* Original Information 18th February 2019

* added 1st June 2019

* added 30th October 2019

 

BHAS Post Excavation 2018/2019

There have been a number of finds processing days over the winter period. Finds from the excavations at Rocky Clump were washed at the premises of the professional unit Archaeology South East (ASE) who once again kindly opened their doors to us. We had several visit to their site for finds washing. There have been 2 other finds processing days held at the Patcham Community Centre where finds were sorted into their various catagories, and later marked after washing. All of these events were well supported by the membership. A number of the BHAS field unit have also been working at ASE helping them out with some processing. We have marking finds from their excavations at Chichester, which do not have funding. This has given the BHAS field unit the opportunity to examine pottery and other finds from different Sussex locations.


Winter Walks

There has been only a single winter walk this season. This was a walk from the ancient trackway leading from Falmer to St Mary Farm. The walk then progressed upwards to Stanmer Down and Bow Hilll. After looking at earthworks and other archaeological features the walk continued up into Millbank Wood. There is so much archaeology in this part of Sussex. A good number of BHAS members came along on a bleak and overcast, but dry day. One other outing was to Ringmer where BHAS members were invited along to the site of a brick making kiln being excavated by Archaeology South East.

 

Beacon Hill

In November 2018 the BHAS conducted some small excavations on Beacon Hill. The test pits were located in an area between the pair of Neolithic long barrows, which are scheduled Ancient Monuments. The test pits were to investigate the site for a new beacon location. The test pits revealed possible cuttings in the chalk below, and a nice collection of prehistoric pottery and flintwork.

In December a small watching brief was conducted on Beacon Hill just east of the windmill. A number of picnic benches were being erected and BHAS examined the post holes as they were being dug. No features were noted, but there was an interesting collection of Victorian artifacts.

 


 Excavations at Rocky Clump from April 6th 2019

The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society will be returning to Rocky Clump on Saturday 6th April. This season we will continue to investigate the east end of a large ditched enclosure. This is the entrance to this late Iron Age or early Romano-British enclosure, other areas inside of the enclosure will also be examined. In 2018 about a third of the area planned for excavation was examined and features found included an Iron Age granary building and large grain storage pit. Other features investigated included some of the surrounding ditches which produced late Iron age pottery, lots of animal bones and 2 baby burials. The excavations is led by the BHAS Field Unit Archaeological Secretary Pete Tolhurst.

The new season of excavations at Rocky clump began on April 6th 2019 and will continue until October. The new season will investigate the various ditches of a large late Iron Age enclosure and will seek evidence for activities within the enclosure. The enclosure has a series of major outer boundary ditches and a number of internal ditches indicating divisions, possibly for differing purposes. The large grain storage pit found in 2018 will be excavated, and other areas will be stripped seeking other features. In 2018 the excavtiosn revealed a granary building, a grain storage pit, and a linear arrangement of flints which could indicate a timber framed structure, possibly a winnowing shed.

A number of 1 metre wide sections have been set out and already the BHAS Field Unit are investigating the various features. The lower east/west ditch is quite large and is producing some very interesting finds of pottery and animal bones. The upper east/west ditch is also providing plenty of archaeological finds. The pottery being found dates to the late Iron Age and includes a good number of diagnostic and decorated pieces.

New areas are gradually being opened up and there are plenty of opportunities to become involved in digging and training in other archaeological techniques. There are a number of tasks that involve training, including the set up and use of the total station, section drawing and site planning. All tuition is given free, and people can try their hand at anything they wish.

 

The excavations at Rocky Clump, Stanmer, near Brighton have progressed during the summer months, so that most of the site is now revealed. The site is a large ditched enclosure with ditches averaging over 2 metres in width and about 1.5 metres in depth. There largest ditches are the outer boundary features, but a smaller ditch indicates that there was a smaller enclosure. An entrance to this inner enclosure was at the west end of the larger one, but there also appears to have also been a pair of causeways, allowing access at other locations.

The digging last year in 2018 revealed a large four posted structure almost certainly a granary, and immediately adjacent was a very large and deep grain storage pit. The east end of the enclosure has a pair of boundary ditches. There were previously thought of as a complex entrance way, but this is now considered unlikely. The most westerly of the ditches is in fact a later feature and cuts through the grain storage pit after it had been filled in.

The largest ditch is the south boundary ditch and this has revealed a rich collection of finds including a second complete cow skull, and numerous animals bones and sherds of pottery. The south east corner of the enclosure shows the south ditch curving round as it becomes the east boundary ditch, but a smaller south ditch continues eastwards out into the field.

Running parallel to the upper east/west ditch and the middle east/west ditch are linear arrangements of flints, possible indicators of being feeble footings for a building or structure. The north collection of flints had been disturbed by ploughing, but enough remained to suggest that it the vestiges of a wall footing. The structure is west of the granary and storage pits, and the chalk surface in this area shows some disturbance. One suggestion is that this structure could be a threshing and winnowing shed.

The most significant finds of the season have been a number of baby burials in the upper east/west ditch, bringing the total number of baby burials to 5. Only one of the burials was found within the enclosure in a small pit.

During the closing weeks of the excavation the clearing of top soil to the east, and outside of the enclosure, has revealed marks in the chalk close to the storage pit. These sharp and curving marks may be associated with either the transport of chalk away from the pit, or the transport of bales wheat or barley into the enclosure. The east side has also produced a number of new post holes, but not in any defineable configuration. It appears that we have still to find where the Iron Age people were living.

A number of test pits have been dug during September examining a number of anomalies noted on the geophysics. The geophysics has revealed some large circular areas that could possibly be the location of round houses. Some of the test pits did produce some compelling evidence requiring further investigation.

The 2019 season of excavation will finish on Saturday 12th October 2019. The BHAS team will then begin finds processing. This will include the washing and sorting of the finds. After Christmas the finds marking will take place at the Patcham Community Centre, along with a number of day schools.

 

 



BHAS have a full winter programme with lectures, finds processing, day schools and walks or visits to places of interest.

 
The BHAS field unit is open to anyone with an interest in archaeology, no previous experience is required, all training will be given. For further details apply to the membership section or contact either Pete Tolhurst at archsec@brightonarch.org.uk or John Funnell at co-ordinator@brightonarch.org.uk for more details

 

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