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Archaeology Report Autumn 2007 Page 1

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Excavations at Rocky Clump

The new season of excavations at Rocky Clump has been well supported. On a number of occasions over twenty people were present on the dig. A number of new people have joined the BHAS Field Unit, and have been given a warm welcome by the existing members. The Young Archaeologist Club visited the site in June and are planning to return for another visit in October, Rocky Clump is obviously a popular location.

The excavations have focused on four locations. A trench immediately north of the trees has revealed the continuation of two ditches (parts of which were excavated to the west in previous years) running east/west across the site. One ditch is about a metre in width while the other, further north, is only about 60 centimeters in width and is much shallower. A pit cuts the smaller ditch off the east side, providing a very useful chronological sequence. The ditches have provided finds of decorated pottery and large bone pieces, as well as oyster shell. There have, however, been very few small finds from this area. The object of the investigation was to chase a linear arrangement of post holes. The post holes could be either a new structure or an ancient Roman fence line. The excavations have shown that the post holes do continue westwards but have been severely truncated by modem ploughing leaving only millimetres in depth of some of the features.

The main area of attention has been to the far north of Rocky Clump where a large trench has been called the 'Bones Trench'. Carol White and the BHAS bones team wished to examine the large north-south ditch and the bones deposition. This ditch has produced numerous bones finds in the past from sections excavated in previous seasons. The depth of soil in this trench is over 1A metre deeper that most of the site indicating that some ancient activity has taken place. It is possible that a ploughed out lynchet may be located here, but there is no visual evidence in the surrounding field. The trench has produced numerous archaeological finds of shell, bone and pottery including a number of sherds that appear to be unique. One sherd of pottery had a lovely handle attached similar to a modern tea cup. It is hoped to pass these on to Malcolm Lyne for his appraisal.

The East trench at Rocky Clump is close to the location of a previous excavation conducted by Clive Skeggs in the 1960s, and there is large overburden of old spoil heap deposits. These layers are gradually being removed and the ditch surrounding the clump is now visible. New post holes have been found as well as a pair of shallow square sections cut into the chalk close to the very large square~ straight sided pit found last season. The finds from this area include a mixture of both Roman and

fairly contemporary periods which is a curious compilation. The work of trying to understand the features and finds from this area continues.

A new series of one metre square trenches are being cut within the trees. The new excavations will try and find an additional burial to those already known. The previous burials had no grave goods and it is thought that a new burial may provide useful evidence, through radio carbon dating, for the occupants of the cemetery at Rocky Clump.

The season will continue Into the autumn or until the BHAS Field Unit are moved to new investigations at Arlington.

John Funnell


Whitehawk Neolithic Causeway

There has been mounting concern that travellers have been creating cess pits on Whltehawk Hill and within the Scheduled Ancient Monument, thus destroying the nationally important archaeological deposits. Brighton and Hove City Council have blocked further access to the hilt by using large concrete bunds. A meeting was held at BHCC in early August with Dr Matt Pope from Sussex University and Paul Roberts from English Heritage. Casper Johnson and Greg Chuter unfortunately could not attend and David Rudling was on holiday. Jane Russell, Norman Phippard and John Funnell attended on behalf of the Society. The meeting produced a number of initiatives including the possibility of a small scale excavation. Other local groups including the Friends of Whitehawk Hill are being contacted in an attempt to raise the profile of this extremely important site. Dr Pope is going to create new guide books for both Whitehawk Hill and Hollingbury hill-fort. Support for the protection of the monument may be sought from the local media. A number of meetings are planned for the winter to discuss and plan further progress. It is Important that the Neolithic deposits and earthworks are protected and enhanced wherever possible. The Society would like to see Whitehawk Hill placed in a similar category to those of Caburn and the Trundle as a place where people would like to visit, to enjoy the Views and read about and look at the archaeological features. A number of visual display boards are being planned to educate those that walk or cycle the tracks that run from Brighton to Lewes along the old Juggs Road.

John Funnell


BHAS Bones Team

All the bone for Ovingdean has now been identified, recorded and reported. Likewise all bone from Rocky Clump for the period 2000-2006 inclusive has now been identified and recorded and an addendum report will be forwarded to John Funnell shortly. All bone from Rocky Clump for the current season up to the beginning of August has been identified and recorded. We have been working on the soil blocks lifted from Ringmer Gliding Club - recovered a beautifully decorated sherd of Iron Age fine pottery from one block which has been forwarded to Greg Chuter. The other blocks are in the course of "excavation". We have now been passed all the bone from Ringmer which is for the most part cremated bone. We will start working on this in the next week or so and our report will be forwarded to Greg in due course.

Carol White


Victorian Rubbish Pit at Hollingdean Lane

In early August the BHAS were asked to visit a site at the top of Hollingdean Lane. Developers had uncovered a huge collection of glass bottles, stoneware vessels and a rich variety of plates and other ceramics. The items clearly marked the location of a Victorian rubbish pit. The developer had notified the County Archaeologist, who had contacted the Society.

The pile of ceramics, including numerous scallop shells was almost 3 metres high. Photographs were taken and a report compiled. Victorian rubbish pits have become features of great interest and access is being sought with the developer to try and conduct a small excavation. It is hoped to record as much archaeology as possible before the site is totally destroyed.

John Funnell



In May the BHAS Field Unit answered a call from Greg Chuter for help on a rescue dig at the East Sussex Gliding Club, Ringmer. The site was found when the topsoil was removed in preparation for making a new runway. The site appears to be a ditched enclosure. Members of the team working in one ditch area were finding lots of 1st and 2nd century pottery as well as cremated bone. On another part of the site

there appears to be a possible ring ditch or drip gully from a circular (roundhouse?) building. This area contains large amounts of iron slag and possibly 3 or 4 postholes. On Sunday one of the possible postholes was excavated by John Funnell and was found to be a small furnace. Geophysics was also carried out by our young David and Linda and John on an area that has yet to be stripped of top soil. The geophysics has produced a number of linear anomalies which will justify further examination.

We were joined on site by members of the Brighton and Hove Metal Detecting Club. Most of the finds were 19th or 20th century in date with some 1/2 crowns and threepenny bits (there was one Georgian coin), but of most significance was a small bronze Roman brooch found on the re-deposited soil. Not to be out done Brenda Collins found an Iron Roman brooch in the ditch, probably from inside of a pot.

The find of the dig, goes to our Linda. While excavating the ditch late on Saturday, she found a flint covering some bone. As it was late in the day it was left in situ until: Sunday. On sponging out the water that had collected in the ditch over night Linda washed off the flint to find that it was a fine example of a Acheulean core measuring some 22cm x 15cm x 7cm and weighing in at around 2 kilo. Well done Linda.

The last scheduled day was another hot day with plenty to do. The main focus was on the large pit cutting the ditch. The remaining grids were taken out by spade and pottery and bone retrieved by hand. Towards the bottom of the pit more bones (animal skulls) were found and delicately removed. The last of the recording was finished and final photos taken and the site shut down.

A few days later Eva and I were asked to meet Greg on site to check the last area where topsoil had been removed. This area turned up two features which could possibly pre-date the rest of the site. The first was a possible Bronze age ditch although it contained no dating evidence, this was sectioned and recorded. The second feature was a small hearth again this had no dating evidence associated with it. It is possible this was earlier than the rest of the site.

This was an interesting site to work on and once again the BHAS Field Unit turned out in large numbers, at times in appalling conditions, to help Greg Chuter on a rescue dig.

Steve Corbett


Neolithic Implements in the Landscape of Peacehaven and their Wider Context

During the months of January/February 2003/4, Brighton and Hove
Archaeological Society conducted a series of fieldwalks at Lower Hoddem
Farm (TQ 416018), Peacehaven, East Sussex. Peacehaven is located on the
south coast of England between Saltdean and Newhaven.

Peacehaven did not exist prior to 1916, a man called Charles Neville bought an expanse of derelict land in the parish of Piddinghoe and set up a company to develop it. After initially being called Anzac-on-sea, by 1917 the place was known as Peacehaven. The site is situated on the South Downs, on loamy facies of the Woolwich and Reading Beds. Topographically the site occupies a low point in the landscape which along with the impervious nature of the geology, may have provided the means to trap surface water. This would explain the human activity in this area, which is otherwise surrounded by free draining chalkland. Lower Hoddern Farm, was put together as a single unit during the second world war and then rented out by the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1982, the current landowner bought the farm which was one of the first 'privatisations' under the Thatcher Conservative government. The fleldwalk survey was carried out as a result of ad hoc flint implements that have been found on and around this location during the last fifty years of cultivation. A local farm worker has in her collection a number of polished flint axes found during her period of employment on Lower Hoddern Farm.

The fields are divided into three sections, East, West and South Field. An initial fleldwalk of ten lines on the west field produced two Neolithic axe roughouts plus a significant amount of implements and debitage in 2003. The results of this survey encouraged the completion of the project in early 2004. The field walks on these three fields produced nearly 600 implements including Flaked/Polished Axes, Piercers, Scrapers and Notched Pieces. This collection also includes an abundance of combination tools such as Notched Scrapers, Notched Piercers and Notched Piercer-Scrapers. A large proportion of the implements consist of Retouched Flakes and Utilised Flakes. There are over 2000 pieces of debitage including Cores and Core Rejuvenation Flakes. Fire cracked flint featured heavily on all three fields, amounting to 56% of the total flint collection, but was particularly in abundance in the south east corner of the south field.

An analysis of this collection concludes that the main bulk of flint implements are of Neolithic origin. Within this project, research was carried out on the movement of flint artifacts within the plough zone. The main conclusion from this part of the report is that artifacts move substantial distances, sometimes as much as 28m, from the original place of deposition. This conclusion leaves a question mark over the purpose of artifact distribution maps from ploughed

fields. It was decided in this project that the Geographical Information System (G.l.S.) distribution maps would be used to visually represent the artifacts, at the moment of their permanent removal from the archaeological record. Future research will no doubt determine whether the hard work of recording and plotting artifacts from ploughed fields into G.l.S. or any other system is actually useful or not. The majority of the G.l.S. maps from this site are held within the appendix of this report and on CD Rom, for future reference.

The aim of the research from Lower Hoddern Farm is as follows:-

  • To discuss what flint knapping activity was taking place on this site during the Neolithic period

  • To examine movement of flint artifacts within the plough zone
  • To place the flint implements in their wider context
  • To create a database and archive from this site for future analysis


For the Full Report please click on Neolithic Implements in the Landscape of Peacehaven and their Wider Context (5.8 Meg PDF file size)

Donna Angel


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