Throughout January we have been undertaking a geophysical survey of
an area of lynchets up on the Downs on the southern slope of Truleigh
Hill (TQ23 10009600). The site consists of a series of lynchets
forming a prehistoric field system, with a later enclosure, possibly
of Roman date. The area is thought to be the site of a probable Iron
Age/Romano British peasant settlement, most likely a small farmstead.
Pottery and burnt flint were found in the area by E. C. Curwen,
c.1930 and mentioned in his book 'Prehistoric Sussex'.
The main aim of the survey was to look for any signs of human
activity and possible settlement. The geophysical survey was
concentrated on the enclosure. The first part of the survey was to
look at the enclosure bank, concentrating on the western side, which
runs south and clearly overlaps earlier lynchets and possible terraces.
The point of this was to look to see if an entry point into the
enclosure could be seen in this area, and also to see if a ditch
could be found either on the inside or outside of the enclosure. This
would help point to its use, and also to see if any form of
construction was built on the top. The second area of geophysics
concentrated within the enclosure looking at earthworks that are
still visible within it, to identify if they are parts of the earlier
fields or to do with settlement activity. Based on the results from
the interior of the enclosure more geophysics maybe done to extend
features that may appear in the results. (see Fig
1 and Fig
Platforms, were identified by John Funnell, just north of the
enclosure which he thinks are similar to the Bronze Age round house
platforms found at Downsview, near Coldean Lane, during the Brighton
The project at Woodingdean Cemetery will restart as soon as possible
in 2005, all depends on the weather (we don't want to bend our
trowels too early in the digging season). The trench which contains
the two post holes will need to be expanded to investigate the
possibility of additional/ associated post holes which could indicate
a possible structure. The excavation of the 19th century compacted
trackway and associated earthen bank, will continue for a further
couple of weekends to confirm that the bank is natural landscape
while an additional two trenches will need to be placed to the east
of the cemetery ground to identify two other areas of ground which
the geophysical survey highlighted. Geophysics will need to be
conducted on the landscape to the west of the cemetery site, the
Sites and Monuments Record for the field records a Tumuli at the top
end of the field although this now appears to have disappeared.
Geophysics and field walking will also need to be carried out on the
large ploughed field to the south.
So plenty of archaeological activity for the Field Unit and
Rocky Clump 2004
The excavations at Rocky Clump continue to produce all sorts of
evidence for the people that lived at Rocky Clump in the 1st to the
4th centuries A.D. The excavations in 2004 concentrated on the large
ditch that cuts across the field from south to north. The upper layer
of the ditch is a dark, soft silty fill and has produced numerous
pieces of animal bone. The "bones' team have been examining the
bones from the ditch and have found that it is predominantly cattle
bone, although there is also a large preponderance of sheep, pig,
horse, deer and some small mammal bones. One interesting find is the
remains of rabbit, in well stratified deposits. It was previously
considered that rabbit came over with the Norman conquerors, but more
and more Roman sites are producing rabbit bones, which means that
there must be a re-think.
This year we have recovered a number of coins from the ditch fills
and the new areas being opened up. One coin was of the Roman Republic
and is a very early coin 50 BC which may show that Rocky Clump has
even earlier origins in the first millennium. Another coin was of the
Empress Lucilla who was married to the Emperor Varus, she was later
implicated in a plot against the Emperor Commodus, who exiled and
later killed her. We are hoping to make this coin the emblem for our
2005 tee-shirt. Other finds have included a spectacular brooch from a
large pit on the east side of the site.
One of the BHAS team is examining the pottery and has already pieced
together almost a complete pot from one of the pits, it is quite a
large vessel. Another pit, the one that contained the lovely brooch,
has produced a large pot that has a 'raised' eyebrow decoration,
which indicates a possible Iron Age date for this particular feature.
As the ditch progresses northwards it is expanding onto a wide
terrace, and into this terrace have been cut a number of very large
pits. These pits have not yet been excavated and will be part of the
2005 work. The BHAS will also be opening an area to study the
deposition of the bones in the large ditch to determine whether they
are random or specifically placed as ritual deposits.
In 2004 Rocky Clump was visited by the Young Archaeologist Club
(Y.A.C.) which gave young archaeologists the opportunity to work with
real 'diggers' and they all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and
cannot wait to return. Rocky Clump has also played host to students
from the Brighton and Hove 6th Form College and an evening class
group from Heathfield.
The north field is now gradually being back-filled, and the future
investigations are unlikely to have such a large area uncovered at
any one time. The excavations at Rocky Clump continue to produce
important evidence for the way of life of the people of Stanmer in
Roman times. It is hoped that upon the conclusion of the excavations,
our image of the Roman way of life will be greatly enhanced.