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Archaeology Report Autumn 2002


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Roman Nail Scraper

In 2000 as part of an educational winter programme members of the Field Unit visited the site of the Roman temple at Lancing Ring. The temple is of classic celia style construction. The field to the west of the temple location had recently had the barley crop removed. Among the remaining stubble in the field was observed significant quantities of both Roman pottery and oyster shell; one member of the team, picked up a bronze artefact from close to the edge of the field .

The find has now been identified as a Roman nail scraper and is similar to a number found during the excavations at Fishbourne. The volume of pottery, shell and the small find, in this field would justify some archaeological investigation, whether field walking, geophysics or preferably both. The nail scraper will be passed to Worthing Museum. A note has been submitted to the Sussex Archaeological Collections (Ref Excavations at Fishbourne 'The Finds' Vol II page 109 Illustrations K.Butler.)

Summer Walks

The season of summer walks, focused on the high places among the South Downs, has now been completed. Designed as a series of four walks, this was extended to a total of six at the request of those who came along. Places visited included Woistenbury, Edburton, Park Brow, Thundersbarrow, Milibank Wood, Itford Hill and Fine Beacon. A social event walk was a visit to the Devils Jumps at Hooksway, north of Chichester, on a mid-summer evening.

This walk was in conjunction with the Worthing Archaeological Society, and a crowd of about 60 enjoyed the evening. The walks were organised to commemorate the memory of Con Ainsworth who spent so many evenings leading groups to the archaeological sites over the Downs. The Downs are particularly beautiful on a warm summer evening and it is a pity that only a few managed to enjoy the perambulations. A comment made by E.C.Curwen, in one of his publications, is that the only time to see the prehistory at Wolstenbury is in the winter and by moonlight. A new season is being planned.


Members of the Field Unit have been assisting MSFAT, under the directorship of Chris Butler, with their excavations at Barcombe; the substantial Roman villa lies close to the church at Barcombe. The week-end excavations concentrated on the area of the previous year's work. The flint walls, pits, post holes and stake holes were enhanced and new features were revealed. The villa was preceded by two round houses. A Bronze Age ditch is also part of the ancient panorama. The excavation of a newly opened section to the south of the existing dig has revealed an in-situ tessellated floor. A number of members of the Field Unit enrolled in the Archaeological Training Courses conducted at Barcombe.

Geophysical Software

With the help of generous donations from members, Worthing Archaeological Society and the Mid Sussex Field Archaeological Team, we have recently purchased additional software for use with the RM15 resistivity meter. The addition of this package will allow a rapid downloading of the data collected during the surveys and give an almost immediate image of what the survey has revealed. The software has been placed on a number of computers, but the special 'dongle' device only allows one computer at a time access to the software. Team members David Staveley and Bill Santer are the leading forces of the geophysical unit and will be organising other projects where training in the use of the equipment will be a major consideration.


Finds Processing

Finds processing wilt be a feature of our indoor winter programme. Material to be examined, sorted, marked and catalogued will include finds from the Medieval site at Ovingdean and the Roman site at Rocky Clump. The processing usually takes place on Saturdays from 10-00 to 3-00 pm. Those wishing to become part of the recording team should inform the Archaeological Secretary.


Winter Programme

Activities in the field during the winter months will include geophysical studies at locations around Brighton and it is hoped that some fieldwalking,if fields are available. Early in the new year a survey of earthworks at Stanmer Wood is planned and Days schools are being organised in various artefactual studies. All these projects are subject to weather conditions and availability of location.


Excavations at Ovingdean

From late March to the middle of April the Field Unit conducted excavations at the field known as Hogs Croft, Ovingdean. The field is immediately north of the church; and the Society has conducted a number of geophysical surveys in the field over the past decade. The late Ray Hartridge began the first survey in 1986, others were completed in 1991 and 1999. The surveys produced significant concentrations of high readings in linear arrangements.

The excavation was planned as an assessment to confirm suspicions that a site of some importance lay beneath a series of earthworks visible in this field. A total of 7 trenches were cut and all revealed archaeological features. The trenches close to the church wall found a large area of flint cobbling, possibly some form of courtyard. These trenches also produced a large deposit of tile suggesting that this part of the field was used as a workshop when the church roof was partially replaced in the late l8~ century. Pits and post holes were uncovered and a possible well, excavated to a depth of 1 .2m lay at the east end of the cobbled surface.

Other trenches uncovered flint walls over a metre wide and 0.6rn deep, other similar features are known to run parallel out in the field to the north of the excavation. A large section on the east side of the field produced a large feature nicknamed 'the tower' by the Field Unit; the area was a large deposit or conglomeration of flint and dressed stone. Upon excavation the feature appears to be a wall measuring 1 .44m wide and nearly 1m in depth; lying either side of this wall was a supporting buttress of chalk. The wall was lying on a flat platform carved out of the natural chalk.

Finds from the excavation included green glazed ware, large quantities of Medieval pottery, bone, oyster and whelk shells, dressed stone and floor tiles. Small finds included a metal axe and a decorated spindle whorl. An enhancement of the geophysical survey indicated that the excavation missed the location of a large rectangular building by a single metre! John Davies, the local historian, has suggested that the field could be the location of a possible 'Thegnly' manor.

As with all assessment excavations the tendency is to produce more questions than answers and at Ovingdean this is no exception. Ovingdean clearly has a Medieval site of significant proportion. The geophysics suggests, and this has been confirmed in part by the excavation, that the site contains a building with courtyard surrounded by other ancilliaty buildings forming some form of Medieval enclosure, with the 11th century church lying to the south. The finds and construction method of the walls tends to suggest a date prior to the 13th century (Pers comm. Chris Butler).

The finds are currently being processed and the interim report is being prepared. Post excavation will form part of the winter programme.

Excavations at Rocky Clump

The excavations continue at Rocky Clump where the Field Unit have uncovered another area measuring 48 square metres. The ditch running from south to north across the site has now expanded to a width of 8 metres. The large baulk revealed in 2000/2001 has now been drawn and is currently being excavated by the individual layers. The large ditch has produced pottery, bone, shell and a number of metal small finds including brooches. One of the brooches is comparable to a number found at Fishbourne dated to the 1st century A.D. This dating is substantiated by the pottery analysis of Malcom Lyne. The excavation will continue with the planning and sectioning of the new area uncovered. It is clear that Rocky Clump is far from being a 'simple' Rornano-British farmstead, and that the excavations are revealing important facets of early lst century rural activities.



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