Selected Articles from the BHAS Bi-Annual magazine
"Flint" Spring 2008
During late March this historic site will be opened for the season
from Good Friday. The excavations will include areas that were opened
last year including the far North trench (known on site as the Bones
Pit). A large ditch running through this section of the site has yet
to be completed. Finds have included a large quantity of animal bone.(Photo
The east/west ditches just north of the Clump will be extended to the
west and north to follow the ditch and post features.
The area of 1m x 1m grids within the copse of trees will be continued
to investigate the possibility of ancient activity and last, but not
least, will be the pits and ditch which lie at the eastern edge of
the clump. These excavations will be extended towards the clump and
to the south to try to understand what is actually happening in the
area. (Photo 2)
During March it is anticipated your unit will be invited back to the
Peacehaven Barrow to help Sue Birks (Site Director) carry out further
investigations into the ancient Barrow. The advantage of this
excavation is the knowledge gained by the field unit through working
on a variety of sites on different terrains and in different
locations. The unit have a great deal of experience and skills in
working on the ancient natural chalks of the South Downs, this site
is completely different in that the natural geology is one of sands
and where subtle features can be difficult to identify, therefore
great care must be taken when excavating. Once each feature has been
identified it must be carefully exposed, excavated and recorded.
During May-June the unit will again return to the manorial site at
Ovingdean to investigate the possible 'detached' kitchen area, and
another quadrant of the manor house, located just north of St
Other areas of archaeological interest will also be investigated
during the season and these will include a small excavation at Varley Halls.
The geophysical team are planning to conduct resistivity
surveying at Piddingwoth Manor, near Stanmer, Beacon Hill,
Rottingdean and Woodingdean. Later in the year, after crop removal
there will be a survey at Ovingdean where a rectangular enclosure has
been observed in one of the fields near St Dunstans.
The post excavation examination of artefacts from our excavations at
Rocky Clump proved very popular, with several new faces joining the
BHAS team. The finds processing allowed hands on experience of Roman
pottery, shell, bone, glass and metal items recovered from the
various ditches excavated in 2007.
Keith Edgar, who has been studying both the Roman pottery from Rocky
Clump and the medieval pottery from Ovingdean, gave a presentation to
the group in February. Keith discussed the various fabrics and forms
that assist with the identification of pottery, the kilns and the
areas it came from. Rocky Clump has pottery from Rowlands Castle,
Hardham, Wickham Barn and Arun Valley wares, as well as the
ubiquitous East Sussex Wares and Samian.
The pottery at Rocky Clump appears to be a very odd collection of
vessels and shapes that would seem to have been deliberately placed.
Does this suggest that the site is actually the location of a shrine?
Several pieces of Roman roofing tile were noted from the north
ditches this season. Several pieces of box flue tile have also been
found in the past. The tile has probably been taken from another more
prestigious site close by. This site is yet to be found.
October saw the BHAS team back at the Arlington Roman site.
This year the main trenches were targeted on two areas which produced
strong geophysical results. The first took in an area of the northern
road ditch which had shown anomalies on both the resistivity and
magnometer surveys done by David Stavely.
Two trenches were opened two metres apart, in the first of
these a ditch was found running north/south into the road ditch. Once
through the plough soil the now familiar grey Roman occupation layer
appeared with it's abundance of 1st and 2nd century Roman pottery. A
second trench was opened parallel to the first and again was soon
down to the occupation layer. This trench was the more interesting of
the two as not only did it have the ditch running north/south but it
also had an area of flint. At first it was thought that it might be
the remains of a wall but as more of it was uncovered it became
obvious that it was not a wall but more like a revetment to support
the area where the two ditches joined. Again this trench produced the
types of pottery we have come to expect on this site, Samian,
(southern and central Gaul), East Sussex Ware, New Forest Ware,
Rhenish Ware, sherds of Amphora plus various types of grey wares.
Also found in this trench was a small Roman glass bead, (Photo
3). Not visible in the photo is the delicate decoration
around the edge of the bead.
In the third trench opened on a magnetic anomaly a furnace was found
with a ditch on the south side. Although only a small part of this
was excavated slag was collected by the bucket full from this area.
These two areas will be the main focus of the next phase of the
In another trench, opened on the southern side of the road in an area
of apparent habitation, a possible hearth was found in the very edge
of the trench. Unfortunately, before this could be excavated fully,
rain (the curse of Arlington), flooded the trench. On one Saturday
the conditions were so bad that rather than do any damage to the site
everyone went to Greg Chuters and did some pot washing and marking.
Towards the end of the year the weather got so bad that it was
impossible to work in the trenches with the possibility of doing harm
to the archaeology so it was decided to shut down the site and move
to another site three fields to the east. This part of the site had
been brought to our notice by one of the locals who regularly
ploughed the field and told us that he hit a "rocky" area
at the edge of the field. After an impromptu field walk a flint area
was found and marked for later excavation.
The first weekend in the New Year saw the team split between
the two sites, back filling at the old site and opening up trenches
at the new site. At first it was thought that we had found the Roman
road again in the new trenches and that Margary's line was out by 50
metres. After three or four weekends excavating it became clear that
it was not a road but a flint platform some 6 metres square. It
appears to have greensand at the corners and a greensand walk way on
the eastern side. The platform has been divided into 4 and at present
3 areas have been opened. In one quadrant the flint has been removed (Photo
4). The platform is made up of 5 layers of downland flint
to a depth of just over 500mm. The top 4 layers have a thin layer of
silty clay and iron stone between them and the 5th layer has a chalk
layer between it and the next. Again the finds, although very few at
present, have been mainly 1st and 2nd century.
A few metres to the north of the platform another trench was opened
on a geophysics target, just under the topsoil it was soon apparent (Photo
5) that we had found at least 4 cremation burials. For
the most part the burials have been ploughed out and only the very
bottom of cremation urns are left with a small scattering of cremated bone.
As well as the Roman pottery from the trenches, walking the ploughed
part of the field has produced some fine examples of worked flint
including an arrowhead.(Photo
We have also had metal detectors working with us on site. They have
found an assortment of metal finds, including lead, Roman nails and
what so far has been one of the best finds on the site a Roman
spearhead. (Photo 7)
This site is not due to go under the plough for another two years so
we will have plenty of to time excavate this area.
BHAS BONES TEAM
Maria Gardiner and I have commenced the post excavation work on the
2007 season; all bone recovered from Ringmer and Rocky Clump has now
been identified and recorded and the reports are in the course of preparation.
The 2008 season opened at Rocky Clump over the Easter weekend
(in less than ideal weather conditions - snow showers if you
please!!). The northern (bones) trench is continuing to yield up
volumes of bone, on Easter Saturday we recovered a virtually complete
horn core, (Photo 8).
On Saturday, 29th March, Mark Gillingham and I block lifted what is
potentially a skull, together with part of a maxilla (upper jaw) of a
horse - it will be interesting to see if the skull mentioned is also
of a horse.
As part of an MA in Field Archaeology I am undertaking at the
University of Sussex, a small team from the Field Unit undertook a
series of walkover surveys around the village of Ovingdean. This
literally meant recording anything that had the potential for
archaeology. We identified the following possible sites: two barrows
or windmill mounds; two potential sites for the medieval village as
opposed to the manorial complex in Hog Croft; two potential
platforms; and areas indicative of Iron Age and Roman landuse. My
thanks go to John, Norman, Bill, Maria, Fran and Jane (over for the
Christmas and New Year break from France) without whom I could not
have undertaken such a large area.
PALAEOLITHIC HAND AXE FOUND NEAR BARCOMBE
A possible Palaeolithic hand axe was recently found by Mr David Bangs
and his friend in a ploughed field on land to the east of Blunt's
Wood near Barcombe. The field is north of the stream that runs across
this particular field. The bi-face has a mainly black/brown
patination with a number of yellow/white striations. The artefact is
broken. It measures 130mm in length and 95mm in width and about 25mm
in thickness. Both linear measurements are not the complete overall dimensions.
The axe is one of several found in this region. A very fine example
was excavated at the Barcombe villa site a few years ago. The
artefacts apparently derive from riverine gravel terraces that appear
to have been exploited during this time of antiquity.
The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society would like to thank Mr
Bangs for bringing the object to their attention. The society will
endeavour to have the object drawn and a short note placed in the
Sussex Archaeological Collections.
FINDS FROM BEDDINGHAM
Early in 2008 Mr David Bangs, of Brighton, walked around the
Beddingham area and he noted considerable quantities of fire-cracked
flint in a field located west of Preston Court Farm. The fire-cracked
appeared extremely concentrated on the southern, upper reaches of the
field where there is almost a pathway of fire-cracked. (Pers comm.
D.Bangs). This may possibly be the location of a ploughed out flint cairn?
The author and Mr Bangs re-visited the field on Saturday 1st March
2008 and both again noted numerous pieces of fire-cracked flint. The
concentration of flint appears to be focused in a shallow depression
on the side of the hill. (TQ456070). The field is known to contain a
small Roman building, possibly associated with the large villa
complex excavated at Beddingham during the 1990's. The finds
recovered also lay close to a known Saxon cemetery.
The Material Collected
(1x) Classic Neolithic white patinated (Oyster shaped) scraper.
Fire-cracked Flint- Total 7 pieces - Weight 198 gms
A total of 15 sherds of pottery were collected on the first visit,
with an additional 4 sherds on March 1st making an overall total of
19 sherds for both visits.
Iron Age evidence is depicted by 3 sherds of pottery (16%). The
inclusions of flint vary in size from 0.3mm up to 4mm in length. One
piece is a very hard sand tempered sherd which is very similar to
known Iron Age Caburn pottery. Caburn lies immediately north of this field.
The Roman pottery is a mixture of 3 fabrics. The predominant type is
East Sussex Ware with a total of 14 sherds (73%). The East Sussex
Ware collection included 2 pieces of rim and a single sherd of base.
The remaining 2 pieces are hard sand tempered wares. (10%)
The pottery, flint work and fire-cracked flint are supportive
evidence for the archaeological remains and features known from this
field. It would require further organised field walking and
geophysical surveys to determine the exact nature and location of
these features, and determine the accurate location of the 'pathway'
of fire-cracked flint.
The Beddingham Roman villa was excavated by South East Archaeology
and University College London (UCL) for about six years from 1989 to
1995. The villa was a substantial building having large main rooms,
corridors at the front and rear and an early bath house attached to
the northern side. There were also winged rooms on the east side. The
villa also had a large well, similar to the one excavated at Barcombe
this year. Other similarities to the Barcombe villa included earlier
phases which incorporated an Iron Age round house and Bronze Age
cremation burials. The Beddingham villa had a later bath house
located further east from the main building, further down the gentle
slope towards a stream that runs from a spring located in the north
facing scarp slope of the Downs. The villa is located just east of
Lewes and close to the Beddingham roundabout.