Last season's excavations continued until Christmas and cut deep into
a number of features producing some very interesting finds. It had
been anticipated that a further investigation would be made of the
ditch running north across the field from the copse of Rocky Clump,
however, what did emerge was an area of intense archaeology. Sections
were cut north and south of a 2 m wide baulk.
A cobbled floor was hinted at by concentrations of large flint
nodules and a distinct flint area was observed in the remaining
sections. The south section, north of the enclosure found in previous
seasons, opened up dramatically in width as it moved north, pits and
chalk platforms dominated this area, and one pit dug into the main
ditch contained significant quantities of charcoal.
It was from this area that the articulated burial of a Roman dog was
discovered. When Jeremy Adams, of the Booth Museum, visited the Unit
in January for a Day School on Bones, he told us that this was a
bitch which had suffered severely from arthritis in old age and it
could be assumed to be a pet as it had been carefully buried and not
In the section cut to the north of the baulk there was evidence of a
flint nodule wall footing and after the silty soil had been removed
the section came down on to a chalk rubble fill. Into this fill had
been cut a pit, containing Samian ware.
The pit had cut into the remains of an animal burial and once the
chalk rubble had been removed the complete skeleton of a Roman or
Iron Age cow was revealed (see
photo); it could be seen from the position of the
feet that the animal had been bound when buried. The large ditch cut
through the earlier features and contained significant finds of
disarticulated animal bones, particularly skull fragments, and
quantities of oyster shell. Metal finds included large nails and a
strip of bronze with a diamond shaped perforation.
Geophysics at Ovingdean
During field walking in 2000 significant finds of Roman and Iron Age
pottery suggested that a settlement site must lie close by;
unfortunately continuation of field walking was postponed as the
field had not been ploughed. However, the Field Unit took up the
opportunity for an alternative investigation using geophysics
(see Pictures) and an area
totalling 7,299 square metres was surveyed, but no features or
anomalies suggesting settlement were found.
A neighbouring field set down to pasture for cattle grazing, was also
surveyed and results were again inconclusive but some anomalies could
suggest the location of circular features. It is too early to suggest
that we have located Iron Age round houses, but further
investigations will continue to try to locate the settlement.
Watching Briefs at Roedean
A number of watching briefs were undertaken at Roedean, an area known
for important discoveries, including finds from Neolithic and Roman
periods. The watching briefs on small extensions to houses produced
finds of a few flint flakes but no new features.
Neolithic Axe from Ovingdean
During the Flint Day School held at Sussex University in January,
finds were examined from the field walking at Ovingdean in 2000;
among these was part of a Neolithic axe. This axe fragment has been
examined by Chris Butler who tells us that it is either a rough-out
or, more likely, a well used implement; the piece found was the
cutting end and the axe had probably been hafted. This axe was broken
in antiquity and re-used as a hammer.
Excavations at Stanmer House
Readers will be interested to hear that the professional unit of
Archaeology South East have recently conducted an archaeological
assessment in the grounds to the west of Stanmer House between the
house and Stanmer Museum. A number of walls of varying dates were
found and the trench went down 2/3 metres to a stone footing which
overlay large sarsen blocks deposited as footings; the site of a
fireplace was noted. The walls with flint nodules may prove to be the
foundations of the Jacobean house known to have existed on this site
and excavated by Charlie Yeates in the 1950's.