Selected Articles from the BHAS Bi-Annual magazine
"Flint" Autumn 2009
The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society considers outreach to
the general public as part of its aims and objectives. The society
would like to increase its membership and promote the archaeology of
Brighton, Hove and the surrounding area. Members of the society
frequently attend various venues to conduct excavations, geophysics
or finds processing and these activities are usually part of a bigger event.
In May members of the society were at Michelham Priory for their May
celebrations and in June we joined Tristan Bareham and the ESAMP team
for 3 days of finds processing at Moulescoomb School. At Moulsecoomb
pupils from other schools were 'bussed in' to join other groups in
enjoying and learning about various subjects including archaeology.
The pupils were able to participate in excavation, finds processing
and metal detecting.
During July the society was at Brighton Museum on two days as part of
the Festival of British Archaeology organised by the CBA. Here
members continued their finds processing sessions, interacted with
the general public, met foreign visitors, and recruited new members.
A second visit to Michelham in July was also part of the Festival of
Our next venture will be on Whitehawk Hill on September 20th where
the society will join other groups in a festival of archaeology and
nature. The purpose of this event is to raise the profile of
Whitehawk Hill and to attempt to protect and enhance the much
neglected Neolithic causewayed enclosure located on the hill.
It is important to raise the profile of the society and make people
aware that they do have a very dynamic and versatile local group. It
is also important to show them that they too can be part of that
team, even without previous skill or experience as the society is
willing and able to train people in all its activities.
DITCHLING VILLAGE GREEN
An archaeological evaluation excavation comprising five trenches was
carried out on Ditchling Village Green to investigate the impact of a
proposed new access scheme on archaeological deposits. Desk based
research had shown the site was potentially the 'village farm' from
the late Saxon period through to 1966, when most of the buildings
were demolished to create the current village green. Two buildings
were left extant, the cart lodge and elements of the great barn and
the small barn.
The excavation identified below ground remains of at least two
buildings, a cobbled surface and a concrete surface/structure. Finds
mainly comprised of post-medieval building material, pottery and
metal artefacts relating to the farm complex, but also included
residual material from the Mesolithic, Roman and medieval periods.
The project was successful in establishing the presence, condition
and depth of archaeological features and deposits in order to inform
a redesign of the proposed path scheme to reduce impact on the
Full report to be published in BHAS notebook
THREE WEEKS AT BARCOMBE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CBM 1 ANORAK?
Last year I was asked by Chris Butler and David Rudling to be their
Finds Supervisor for the 2009 season of excavations at Barcombe Roman
Bath House. I wasn't naïve enough to expect the task to consist
of washing and marking exotic Roman tableware, or packing exquisite
metal work in acid free paper into a crystal box, but I was a little
taken aback on my first morning to be presented with a huge array of
piles of mortar and tile either loose on the ground or stacked by the
hedge in plastic fertiliser sacks, some of which had been there so
long that tiger slugs 2 had taken up residence and a variety of
plants had taken root.
Fortunately, for the first week I was accompanied by Dianne
Butterfield, whose organisational skills are exceptional, and after
she'd sorted me out, together we fell into a rhythm of sorting tiles
and mortar. The more straightforward artefacts to look for were
tegulae 3, imbrices4, box flues and flat tiles. What really surprised
us was the number of slightly different shapes of the flanges of the
tegulae. By the end of the three weeks there were 39 different flange
shapes: still a long way to go in comparison with the 60 that were
found at Piddington Roman Villa, but even so: each one had to be
drawn and described. Was each shape an indication of a particular
craftsman? Or was it simply because each tegula was hand made rather
than machine made and therefore that variation was inevitable? We
also had to make a note of the cutaways 5 which we sometimes found at
the end of the tile. We found a number of imprints in the tile -
mostly dog paws - but also shoe nails, and fingerprints of our
ancestors. There were also many different patterns of combing on the
box flues. The combing was in order for the mortar and cement to
stick to bond with the tiles: hence it would never have been seen
which made the number of different patterns all the more surprising.
Sometimes the keying was done by means of a roller and David was very
pleased when one day we found a piece of tile with an extremely
elaborate rolled pattern of a type which had never before been found
south of Lullingstone Roman Villa.
We suggested a system of describing the fabric of the tiles: though
I'm not exactly sure if it meets industry standard, since one of the
fabrics was frequently described as 'manky' - orangey, crumbly and
flaky. Otherwise known formally as 'Type 4.
Similarly we developed a suggested typology for the mortar and cement
which, according to the type, size and number of inclusions, came in
a variety of colours and density ranging from dark pinky orange
through to chalky white. We wondered about using a Munsell Chart 6 to
describe them but decided against it since the colours seemed to
change according to the weather.
There is a lot to learn; we are only at the beginning of the process
and I fear that a lot of evidence has been missed through ignorance.
So if anyone has any ideas of places to visit or people to meet in
order to further my knowledge, please get in touch.
If anyone had told me at the beginning of July that I was going to
find tiles and mortar interesting, I would have laughed at them and
told them not to be silly. However, much to my surprise the season
proved really fascinating and I began to feel I was reaching out to
the everyday craftsmen (I'm making an assumption here which might not
be justified!) of 2000 years ago in a way which is very different
from the feeling when cleaning up a piece of Samian ware for example.
To see an artisan's fingerprints, or the paw mark of his dog and the
hobnails from his footware, and to put my own fingers in their marks,
seems much more of a link with the past. To work with tile and mortar
is truly to meet the ancestors.
Ceramic Building Material
2 Tiger slug
limax maximus - according to Wikipedia, one of the largest kinds of
keeled air breathing land slug in the world.
(pl. tegulae) a flat roof tile
(pl. imbrices) a curved roof tile which fits over a tegula
a notch taken out of the end of a tegula to enable the neighbouring
one to fit securely over it so as not to slide off the roof
6 Munsell Chart
the standard chart for ensuring uniform colour descriptions
STRETHAM MOATED SITE TQ 520 138: PLACENAME
The earliest recorded spelling is Stretham, referring to a straet,
i.e. a Roman road. Old English (OE) ham meant a village; but no
village is known there. OE straet-ham is more likely. It may mean a
river meadow, or dry ground in a marsh, by a river and on a Roman
road. This is the Sussex Greensand Way (M140) which crossed the tidal
Adur by ferry or ford. The excavated moat and the adjacent Stretham
Manor, are respectively, in a river meadow, and on dry ground next to
it, but they lie 300m upstream of the road.
OE straet-ham may also mean a promontory of dry land into water. This
is a precise description of the river crossing. I think the name
first meant that, and was only translated to the manorial complex
when that was first built. Since only the island was excavated, we
don't know when it was first built. The name was probably only
applied to the site excavated, after the embankment was built to
protect it from tides. Later the river shifted and flooded that
The dig will be published in SAC.
The main focus of the BHAS excavations for 2009 has been at
Ovingdean. The BHAS field unit returned to the medieval manorial site
in June to further investigate the medieval house partially uncovered
in 2003 and 2008. The previous investigations had uncovered the
south/west corner and north/east corner of the building and both were
quite different. The south/west corner had shown walls over 1.4M
thick and over a metre in depth. The north/east corner had been
dramatically robbed of the large wide flint wall constructed of large
flint nodules, grit and mortar and had later been replaced with a
less substantial, but still well-constructed wall, measuring only
80cms in width. A small section cut through the interior of the house
proved that it possessed a cellar or undercroft, with two sheep
skeletons at the bottom.
The small investigation of the south/west corner examined in 2008 had
uncovered a later floor comprised of large beach pebbles lying over a
compact rammed chalk floor. The upper fill of the interior of the
cellar had been used as a rubbish tip from the Georgian period
onwards, with coins of George II, George III and Victoria being found.
This year, the site was divided into 2 metre squares and the finds
collected from the top soil in these discrete areas. The archaeology
is immediately below the turf which comes down onto a layer of
contemporary roofing tile indicating the use of the field when
re-roofing St.Wulfran's church. On the advice of the County
Archaeologists sections of the site have been left for future
archaeologists. This is to allow for later archaeologists to
investigate and perhaps reappraise earlier efforts to better
understand the complex features found within the building.
The walls are gradually being uncovered and the complexity is clearly
visible. The north wall, and part of the east wall were the subject
of severe robbing. The whole area is covered with masses of flint
nodules, grit and mortar. The thinner later wall is well constructed
and part of a later phase of construction, as is the beach cobbled
floor surface still being found in-situ in various locations over the interior.
The west end of the building has a reduction in wall width at its
north/west corner, a similar reduction is not evident, as yet, on the
south/west corner. The link between the large east wall section and
the later thinner wall has an intriguing ditch feature lying in the
interior possessing some form of metal work, as yet still hidden. The
walls appear to have been built first and then a variety of chalk and
loamy fills poured into the construction ditches. A number of sherds
of medieval pottery have been found in this outer layer, proving that
the chalk revealed is a fill and probably part of an artificial
platform on which the complex is built.
The finds from the interior of the house have, other than recent
roofing tile, been comparatively few. However, among the items have
been a coin of Charles II and a number of pieces of dressed stone.
Other finds have included a few pieces of green glazed medieval
pottery, tile and oysters shells, as well as 'mother of pearl' items
and clay pipe fragments.
The Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) joined the BHAS field unit twice
this year at Ovingdean, in June and July, and the field unit's
excavations at Ovingdean will continue until late October.
ROCKY CLUMP 2009
The new season of excavations at Rocky Clump began in April. A new
area north of the existing 'bones trench' had been started during the
autumn of 2008 and a number of late 3rd century coins had been
uncovered. The coins were identified by Bill Santer as barbarous
radiates. The general depth of soil over this part of Stanmer
averages about 200mm but during the season of 2008 this depth had
dropped to over a metre. The previous season had revealed an
intriguing stratigraphy with a number of well defined layers clearly
identified in the deeper south facing section. The area was divided
into 2 metre square sections, to investigate the spatial deposition
of artefacts and their possible movement over the frequently ploughed
area, but which is now set down to grass.
During the new season each layer was systematically removed and the
finds collected from the various deposits. The layers consisted of a
mixture of heavy clay soils and chalky loams, but well defined and
separate. In one layer there were considerable numbers of land snails
clearly indicating a lapse of time between one deposition and
another. The finds were not too numerous but did include a large
piece of tegula Roman roofing tile. Other finds included pottery,
shell and some prehistoric flint work.
The lower layers in the section had shown large pieces of chalk and
large flint nodules. As the excavation progressed to the lower
depths, butchered animal bones were uncovered, in discrete areas,
over what proved to be an in-situ flint cobbled floor. At the western
end of the floor, which has a circular configuration, was found a
large sarsen stone, still embedded in even lower layers. On the floor
were found several interesting metal work items and a large section
of glass from a Roman storage vessel. The metal work included a
zoomorphic type brooch dated to about 280AD and a possible child's
'snake' finger ring from just below the large sarsen stone.
The large ditch running south to north, and lying west of the floor,
was also excavated. The finds from this 2 metre wide section included
Samian pottery and lots of butchered bone including almost the whole
carcass of a cow, the second from Rocky Clump.
The flint cobbled floor exposed this season and the large amounts of
butchered bone suggest that this could have been a Roman slaughter
yard. What is clear is that the floor pre-dates the large north/south
ditch as the upcast from this feature overlays the floor deposits.
David Rudling visited the site in May and suggested that the circular
end of the floor could possibly be a Roman well. There are a number
of large ironstone pieces forming part of the circular section.
The excavations will resume in the autumn when the BHAS field unit
returns from Ovingdean. It is planned to extend the trench in both
east and north directions to uncover the whole of the floor before
cutting new sections to investigate the lower depths below the floor
and find out if, indeed, Rocky Clump does have a Roman well.