This section contains the latest news from the Field Unit, as and
when it occurs. New sections are added as and when to show the
progress the Field Unit are making during the year.
* Original Information 15th March 2017
* Added 22nd May 2017
* Added 21st August 2017
* Added 19th November 2017
BHAS Post Excavation 2016/2017
There have been a number of finds processing days over the winter
period. The pottery and flintwork has all been washed leaving only
the bone to be completed. The finds were sorted into catagories and
after washing were marked and catalogued. There is and interesting
collection of pottery with a number of different rims styles, but the
fabrics are quite limited. Other finds including marine shells and
metal work will be inspected and recorded in a post ex. Day at
Patcham Community Centre on March 11th
There have been a number of winter walks to places of archaeological
interest. The walks included visits to the hill fort at Caburn. A
wander around the archaeological sites of Stanmer visited the Bronze
Age sites at Pudding Bag Wood and Stanmer Great Wood, the Roman site
at Rocky Clump and the medieval site at Patchway. A visit was also
made to a number of locations around Ovingdean, where BHAS have been
digging, field walking and conducting geophysics for over a decade.
Planned visits to Wolstenbury Hill and Alciston had to be cancelled
due to bad weather. These walks will be rescheduled for the summer.
BHAS Field Work
The BHAS field unit have been very busy during the winter months. In
December the team, led by Pete Tolhurst, visited Rottingdean Grange
and conducted a resistivity survey of the gardens to the west of the
house. Rottingdean is considered to have numerous underground tunnels
linked to 18th century smuggling activities. Sadly the survey failed
to reveal any such features at the Grange.
The team also visited a farm at Burwash in November, where a farmer
had observed a peculiar circular feature in one of his fields. The
field around the farm has produced numerous finds of coins and
bottles and other artefacts. The team conducted a small survey around
a very visible feature but sadly failed to find any anomalies which
could indicate archaeological features. It is possible that it is a
fungal 'fairy' ring. The farmer is keen for the team to return and
conduct some small scale excavations.
BHAS have been asked to conduct some surveying and geophysics at the
site of Old Erringham Farm. The fields around the farm are full of
earthworks and Heritage England has asked BHAS to conduct some
investigations. This is being planned for the spring of 2017.
In February the team conducted some field walking on a small field
immediately north of Hog Croft field, Ovingdean, where the Society is
conducting its excavation. The weather was particularly wet and the
going heavy, but a good number of finds were produced. Among the
finds were medieval pottery, marine shells, flintwork, some
whetstones and a nice, but broken, Neolithic rough out axe. The finds
are being washed and will be studied soon.
Members of the BHAS Field Unit conducted a watching brief while a
large trench was being dug in Palace Place, close to the Royal
Pavilion. The trench revealed a number of arches and walls probably
dated to the Regency and Victorian periods. There were quite a lot of
features in one small area. The only find were a spoon and some
glazed ceramics which have been dated to about 1820.
Excavations at Hog Croft Field, Ovingdean 2017
A new season of excavations is planned to commence at Ovingdean in
April. The long term weather forest is being studied as an early
start to the digging last season coincided with a period of extremely
wet and cold weather. The start of the 2017 digging may be pushed out
till a little later if similar weather is on the horizon.
The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society
field unit returned to Hog croft field on April 8th. The tarpaulins
were removed and work commenced in a number of areas. The south east
trench has produced an area of flint nodules and tile which could be
viewed as a possible floor surface. The layer above the flint surface
has produced numerous finds of medieval pottery, fire-cracked flint,
oyster shells and bone fragments. It is possible that this is the
location of the manor kitchen. There are no associated post holes so
it can only be assumed that it was timber beam building construction.
The north east trench has also produced finds
of fire-cracked flint and bone, including a complete cow leg bone and
half a cow jaw bone. starting to appear are large flint nodules which
may hopefully confirm that the 'kitchen' also continues in this
direction. The same area should reveal a ditch running north/south
which has produced Saxon pottery in the past. The direction of the
ditch is close to the west side of the kitchen and could prove to be
some form of drainage feature.
Th north trench contains the north boundary
ditch running east/west and the lead down into this wide feature is
becoming larger as the ditch is revealed further east.
The well has been uncovered and the winter
covering has proved successful, with very little frost damage to this
incredible feature. The north wall of the well has been cleaned back
and has found to be constructed of a collection of very large chalk
blocks. The blocks are very crudely made. The well section itself has
been cleaned and the various sections now drawn. It has an upper
feature consisting of large mortared chunks with a solid mortar base
below. Under this layer the fill consists mainly of large flint
nodules and a clay loam. The central area is surrounded by a chalky
loam fill, and there are suggestions that there may have been some shuttering.
The well is now being excavated down to the
legal depth before shuttering is required. The north end chalk block
wall has been partially excavated and is located within a shallow pit
with the chalk blocks constructed inside. It is possible that this is
a feature from the well construction. It was hoped to find a post
hole indicating that it could have been part of a Saxon grubenhause,
but sadly no post holes was found.
New areas are being opened with the removal of
the various baulks, now that they have bee drawn ad recorded. A
number of important features lie beneath the various baulks including
a gully terminus and a large pit which could be for charcoal burning.
The new areas may also reveal more post holes which could comfirm the
shape and size of Saxon building known to be hidden below the later
The BHAS field unit have worked throughout the
summer on their site at Ovngdean. The excavations have focused on two
trenches in the north/east and south/east sections of the site, with
continuing excavations in the well in the north west section. The
soil depth is not very deep but there are several distinct layers,
each producing dateable finds. The upper top soil level has produced
numerous Victorian ceramics, bone and clay pipe stems. The lower
level is rich in medieval pottery, bone, oyster shell and
fire-cracked flint. The lowest level consists of a light chalky loam,
which is relatively sparse on finds, but this soil covers the natural
chalk bedrock into which is cut numerous features.
The north east/trench was partially excavated
in 2016 and appeared to be devoid of any features except two ditches,
one running east/west and the other north/south. The north/south
ditch, which has vertical sides, has produced Saxon pottery. This
season cleaning back the natural surface revealed a very large
elliptical pit into which a gully is running from the east. The large
north boundary ditch has now been found to have a linear arrangement
of post holes running east/west, located immediately south of the
larger ditch. The north/south ditch appears to terminate just before
the central baulk or it may turn eastwards. The removal of the chalk
rubble above the natural has revealed a number of post holes which
are still under investigation.
The south/east trench had the baulk removed
between it and the west trench, effectively extending the first
trench eastwards. In the north east corner of this trench there have
been numerous finds of pottery, bone, oyster shell and fire-cracked
flint. There is also a raised area of compact clay which could be the
base of an oven. The significant number of finds from this area would
suggest food preparation, and may be the location of the medieval
kitchen. Below this deposit the natural chalk has been cut in
numerous places with both pits and post holes. A new gully has been
revealed running north/south with a well defined west edge. This
features may be parallel to another gully found in 2016 located to
the west. It is possible that this is a beam slot structure or dwelling.
Excavations continued in the well, in the
north/west trench. The removal of some of the large chalk blocks at
the north end of the well area failed to reveal a post hole that
could have indicated the possible location of a Saxon grubenhause.
The reason for the construction of the chalk wall, in and above a
large pit, is still being investigated. The well itself has now been
excavated down to about 1.4 metres in depth. The upper medieval wall
covering the well has been totally removed and the lower fills found
to consist of a light, chalky loam containing numerous very large
oyster shells. The well will be excavated down to the legal safety
limit, and some possible boring to seek the well depth may be undertaken.
Two trial test pits have been cut into the
field north of the medieval enclosure, and both have produced a post
hole, and some finds. This tends to indicate that archaeology appears
to be located all over the field at Hog Croft.
Some training is being planned in geophysical
surveying and plane tabling, and an introduction to the use of the
Society's total station. This will commence later in the season.
The excavations at Ovingdean are drawing to a
close now. The site has been constantly busy throughout the summer
and early autumn. The excavations have revealed a huge number of
features including numerous post holes, of various shapes and sizes,
large pits and a number of linear gullies. The east side of the south
trench has also revealed a very disturbed area with large quantities
of stake holes. The south trench has had a concentration of finds in
the north east corner with large numbers of finds most notably
pottery, oyster and whelk shells, fire-cracked flint and bone. There
is large dump of clay/daub in the same location. Beneath this layer
digging has revealed a large pit and a huge stone which could be
possibly a 'hearth' stone. The numerous finds from this area suggest
a possible food processing location and may be a 'detached' kitchen
area. Sadly lacking though is evidence for an oven. In the north/west
corner of the trench there is another concentration of post holes,
and charcoal laden pit. These features are linked by yet another gully.
In the north trench the charcoal laden pit
found earlier in the season was the subject of further investigation.
The baulk was partially removed so that more of the pit could be
revealed. It is quite large pit with a flat bottom and sloping sides.
It was filled to the brim with charcoal and this has now been removed
for further study. The charcoal was covered by daub and heavy clay
and large chunks of daub may prove to be kiln furniture. The upper
surface consisted of a layer of very large, blackened flints.
The north east trench has already been
completed and contains numerous post holes and gullies possibly
associated with timber beam slot buildings. All of the post holes
have been drawn, along with the baulk sections which show various
gullies or ditches going in various directions. One feature proved to
be a very large, odd shaped pit.
In the north trench the excavation focus has
been on the well. This is a very vertical sided feature cut thought
virgin chalk into the bedrock. It has produced numerous large oyster
shells and some interesting pottery. At various phases there was
evidence for a timber lined well, but as digging progressed downwards
the fills consisted more of a heavy chalk rubble.
It is now obvious that Ovingdean was a very
busy place during the pre and post conquest period. There are
numerous post holes going in all directions. The site will be planned
and the post hole orientations studied to try and determine how many
timber framed structures there are in this area, and with several
structures any possible phasing.
During the winter months the finds will be
sorted, washed and marked/ This function will be part of the BHAS
field unit post
Surveying at Old Erringham Farm, near Shoreham.
Over the past few weeks members of the BHAS
field unit have been undertaking surveying at Old Erringham Farm. The
site is scheduled and some areas were excavated by te late Eric
Holden in the 1970's producing finds and burials from both the Saxon
and medieval periods. The scheduled area is very large and Heritage
England asked BHAS if they would conduct a survey of the area using
resistivity and magnetometry equipment. The Society also conducted a
topographical survey of the numerous earthworks in some of the
fields. The results are now being examined and a report compiled.
BHAS are planning more surveys during the autumn months.
BHAS have a full winter programme with
lectures, finds processing, day schools and walks or visits to places
The BHAS field unit is open to anyone with an interest in
archaeology, no previous experience is required, all training will be
given. For further details apply to the membership section or contact
either John Skelon at firstname.lastname@example.org
or John Funnell at email@example.com
for more details
If you are interested in any of these projects contact John Funnell
or call 0844 5888 277 (Evenings)