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Archaeology Report Autumn 2005


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Rocky Clump

The excavations at Rocky Clump have continued in 2005 with a record number of people turning up on site to dig. The excavation consisted of several areas of interest, The main section contained a large section of the ditch running north; this ditch is an earlier phase to the stockade or building excavated in recent years, but has produced numerous finds from the 1st century AD and. a coin of the Republic of about 50BC.

The ditch has cut into a series of large pits on its eastern side and these have been the focus of investigation for this season. A large section was also opened up north of the main trench to look in detail at the bone deposition. It was considered that the bone deposition may have some relevance as to whether the complex is simply a farmstead or is really a religious shrine. Excavations also began back inside the clump of trees. The Brighton Countryside Rangers have successfully removed, without any disturbance to the archaeology below, a large tree that effectively lay in the centre of the 'shrine'; this has allowed a more intensive investigation of this very intriguing building. (see pictures)

Further trenches are being cut into the field to the east to seek evidence for additional post holes. This action may determine whether the building is a religious site or alternatively an aisled barn. The 'shrine & interior has so. .far produced finds of Roman roofing tile, pottery and glass. The excavations have also given a number of the Field Unit an opportunity to become trained in the planning, section drawing and leveling techniques of' excavation, and other sources of recording.

We would like to thank Mr and Mrs West for their continued support and also Jim and Betty Driver who are a very supportive part of our Field Unit, storing our equipment and providing ice cold. drinks at the end of a very hot day.


Rocky Clump Flint

A student from Surrey has examined the flint collection from the excavations at Rocky Clump. The project was designed to examine the patination of struck flint and the varying effects of being in sealed contexts or disturbed ploughed environments. The results are currently being analysed, hut the initial suggestion is that plough-soil material is very similar to that being found in seated contexts.


Bushy Bottom

The Field Unit assisted a student from Winchester in conducting a resistivity survey on earthworks at Bushey Bottom, a valley located south of Edhurton Hill. The student, Paul Clements, has forwarded a complete copy of his dissertation to the Society, and with his permission it will be added to the. 2005 Field Notebook. It is a very worthy and interesting document. We would like to thank the Field Unit for their support during the inclement winter months, and also Paul for his efforts and for sending the document to the Society.


Post Excavation

The Bones Team. has continued with its investigations of the bone remains from the various excavations. Carol White has produced a splendid interim report on the bones from Rocky Clump and she and the team have been examining the human remains from Malling Hill. The remains have now been taken to English Heritage for further examination.

The Society is very appreciative of its very talented experts and how they allow others to become involved in the post excavation processes. Bill Santer has now photographed all of the small finds from. Rocky Clump and will be passing copies of these photos to Liz Wilson the Finds Liaison Officer at Lewes, The artifacts Bill has passed to Deon Whittaker who has begun the conservation of the items.

The Society has been approached by both Matt Pope, from the Boxgrove project and David McOmish of English Heritage fir assistance with a number of projects. Mall has always been fascinated by Hollingbury and its origins and the Field Unit will be helping him to conduct a resistivity survey of the interior of the hill-fort, especially around the earlier Bronze Age ramparts. The survey will take place in September after the next grass mowing.

David McOmish has asked the Society to undertake a large geophysical survey of the Edhurton .Hill motte and bailey castle. David believes that subtle earthworks around the castle may produce evidence for an earlier Iron Age hill-fort. There may also be the opportunity for some small scale excavation. The surveying is planned for September and October this year. David McOmish has also asked it' the Society would he interested in conducting a small excavation on a scheduled tumulus at Chalk Hill car park, Coldean. The tumulus has been covered by large amounts of fly tipping and English Heritage are keen to determine what vestiges of the burial mound remain, and whether it is worth maintaining the scheduling. English Heritage will be seeking the required documentation.

The Society has now effectively linked with the Brighton and District Metal Detecting Club and a number of projects are planned working with the metal detectorists. The Society has recently received, the necessary permits from Brighton and I-love City Council and will begin a number of research projects during the autumn and winter.


Nanson Road Coldean

In April 2005 the Watching Brief team .met 'the contractor who was about to commence a development: at Nanson Road, Coldean and he kindly allowed a number of the Field Unit to conduct a small excavation prior to the start of the works. This excavation lay close to a number of excavations that were conducted by' this Society in the 1950's when the Coldean estate was being constructed. The 1950's excavations produced .Roman ditches. Iron Age round houses and a Bronze Age cremation burial. The new excavation revealed a single flint packed post-hole, a pair of flint mounds and 9 sherds of Iron Age pottery as well as a number of flint flakes.

This excavation produced further evidence that this small valley was being utilized during the prehistoric period and showed that vigilance was required with all planning applications in this area. The Society would like to thank Mr Voller for allowing access to the site, and for a. generous donation to the Society. A report. has been. compiled and will be sent to the appropriate authorities. An archaeological report, which will include details of the 1950's and this years excavations, is being planned for submission to the Sussex Archaeological Collections.



The first phase of the excavations at this site having been completed, the second phase will begin with resistivity surveying this autumn. (see pictures)


Mailing Hill

In early May 2005 the Field Unit responded to a request from the County Archaeologist and Greg Chuter for help with a site on Malling Down. The Lewes Rangers had been. scrub clearing and, when bushes had been removed, found that rabbits had been eroding human hones. Over a bleak week-end of intermittent drizzle and rain members of the Unit conducted an excavation on a small platform area on the steep scarp side of Mailing Down. Two small trenches were cut and the excavations produced a total of 9 burials. The site was immediately adjacent to an earlier trench that had been cut in the 1970's that had produced 12 burials.

It. soon became apparent that these were no ordinary burials, from a total of 9 bodies in the new excavation only one head was recovered. As the dig progressed the people who had been buried were observed to have had their hands tied. behind their backs. There was a small area between the old and new excavations that was free of any skeletal remains. (see pictures)

It. would appear that the burials were execution victims; It would seem that the young men, our Bones Team who are examining the remains tend to confirm this, were marched up the hill and then beheaded, their bodies being thrown into a number of shallow pits. A solitary buckle found at the junction of one of the leg and 'feet hones tends to suggest that these were people associated with. the battle of Lewes 1264, and were probably prisoners of the battle, They were executed on this elevated spot no doubt to emphasise, to those watching in the valley below, the cost of losing the battle.

It was a poignant thought that as we stood on Malling Down and looked towards Lewes Castle and the medieval churches of Hamsey and Barcombe, we reflected on the thought that this was the last view that these poor wretches saw just before their tragic ends.