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Field Unit Archive 2000


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* Orginal 2000 Information

* New Information July 2000 Highlighted

* New Information September 2000 Highlighted

* New Information January 2001 Highlighted


Fieldwalking at Ovingdean

In February the Field Unit conducted a fieldwalking survey of fields to the south of Ovingdean church.

The material has now been washed and initial examination odd a quantity of the bags has produced a number of finds. The flintwork is of a white patination in general with a number of flint tools already identified. The collection of pottery sherds covers the Roman period,13th century medieval wares and contemporary material. Oyster shells and clay pipes have also been produced in quantity. The examination will continue until dot density diagrams can be produced locating areas of concentration.

Flint and fire-cracked flint suggest at least 2 areas of Neolithic exploitation of the flint seams from the chalk cliffs.

Finds are still being processed and dot density diagrams being produced. The geophysical survey is planned for this October.


Excavation at Pudding Bag Wood Stanmer

April saw the beginning of the excavation season. A number of sites are being investigated this year.

The first excavation is at Pudding Bag Wood where a section is being cut through a cross ridge dyke. English Heritage are keen to schedule these earth works and are anxious to have an accurate date for these features. The Pudding Bag Wood cross ridge dyke was the subject of an excavation in the 1960's, but apparently little was found.

As this earlier excavation was never backfilled it seemed appropriate to open this section again rather than cut a new one. Once the cut had been cleared out and cleaned up the stratigraphy was clearly revealed. The original excavators while cutting through the bank had never excavated the adjacent ditch. The fill of the ditch is very sandy and silty.

The lower layers of the ditch produced significant quantities of flint flakes and cores with a number of scrapers. Three pieces of prehistoric pottery were also found. Once the section is drawn the whole area will be excavated back a further 50 centimeters to examine the bank layer by layer producing dating evidence for each context.

The unit have also been surveying a number of adjoining features to the great earthwork. A number of large pits and a barrow, and scheduled ancient monument, lie close to the cross ridge dyke. The surveying may reveal some insight into their relationship or allow interpretative observations as to their purpose.

The Society have recently completed the excavation of a cross ridge dyke within Pudding Bag Wood Stanmer.

The dyke is an earthworks consisting of a large ditch and even larger bank created by the fill of the ditch removed. The section cut is 1.5 Metres wide and 16 metres long. The ditch contained finds of pottery and flint, mainly flint flakes.

A number of flint tools is among the collection including, notably, thumb scrapers. The pottery has a heavy flint temper and both collections of artefacts suggest Iron Age dating. The flint work is being examined and it has been proposed that the lower fills of the ditch are of Late Bronze Age date.

The sections have been drawn and photographed and await inspection by geologists. The high quality of the clay into which the ditch has been cut has been considered, and an idea that this clay and the feature could indicate exploitation of the clay as a resource has been proposed.

The excavation is complete and the recording done. The site has been visited by English Heritage who are very pleased with both sections. A preliminary report is being written and this will be followed by a final document when the specialist reports are completed. The site has been back filled.

The linear earthwork at Pudding Bag Wood has a number of depressions at both its north and south termini and a contour survey was undertaken on the linear earthwork and all the adjacent features.

North Brighton and Stanmer have been the subject of continuing archaeological investigation over the past century with particular importance being attributed to the excavations at Downsview (Rudling forthcoming) and Varley Halls (Greig 1997). There have been numerous isolated finds from all over this area of Brighton dating from all periods of antiquity. One purpose of the excavation was to attempt to establish a link with the known archaeological landscape.

The excavations consisted of a single section being cut in each earthwork 1m in width. The sections were drawn, photographed and recorded and then excavated a further 0.5m in width with the individual finds being recorded both spatially and stratigraphically. The location of each find was placed onto a computer generated section drawing .

Pudding Bag Wood, which is not a cross ridge dyke, has been investigated before with a section being cut in 1960 by Walter Gorton and Charles Yeates. While it was perceived that the earthworks were artificial, no dating was attributed to the construction. The excavation of this season used the section of the previous excavation.

Once the redeposited spoil had been removed, it was found that while the bank had been sectioned the adjoining ditch had not been investigated. The ditch section, lying on the west side of the bank, produced a considerable quantity of flintwork in the primary fills and a total of 12 sherds of pottery. A broken barbed and tanged arrowhead was recovered from the upper ditch fills.

While the ditch produced significant finds, the bank produced only a very limited number of artefacts of any description over the 15.6m cut. No trace was found of a buried land surface in either section or evidence of a secondary bank. The construction consisted initially with the creation of a wide berm which was observed in both sections, the vee shaped ditches were both cut down to a lower flint layer.

At Pudding Bag Wood the primary fill consisted of a concentrated area of flint nodules on the east side of the ditch overlying a primary fill of soft silty clay on the west, suggesting that a possible boundary 'wall' of flint may have existed on the east side of the ditch. The secondary fill consisted of a layer of silty clay overlain by another wider area of flint nodules. The broken barbed and tanged arrowhead was recovered from under this level. The upper stratas consisted of fills of soft silty clay overlain by a thick layer of leaf mould

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Excavation in Stanmer Great Wood

Stanmer Great Wood is a cross ridge dyke and is smaller in both length and width to Pudding Bag Wood. The length of section cutting through both the ditch and bank was 9.6m. The excavation produced nearly 500 artefacts of flint, fire-cracked and pottery.

A total of 48 pottery sherds were recovered, including a single decorated piece. The disposition of the finds covered the whole area of ditch and bank with the bank producing considerable amounts of flint flakes. The pottery was concentrated in the ditch section.

Fallen trees lying close to the section produced flint material in their roots and a small section cut 15m to the west of the main excavation also produced finds of flint flakes and fire-cracked. Although the method of construction was similar to that of Pudding Bag Wood, the flint 'wall' deposit, on the west side of the ditch was not so distinct.

The flint assemblages are distinctly different with Pudding Bag Wood producing the greater quantity of flint tools. A Neolithic or Bronze Age date is suggested for this earthwork construction based upon the artefacts recovered. The pottery from Stanmer Great Wood appears to be at least Iron Age in date and possibly earlier. Both pottery and flint are being examined by specialists who will produce a more definitive dating of the artefacts and establish a greater accuracy for the dating of the features themselves.

Stanmer Great Wood lies between the Bronze Age sites of Varley Halls and Downsview and the linear earthwork is probably a part of this complex panorama. Aerial photographs have identified lynchets in the ploughed fields between these sites and field walking has produced material from the Neolithic to Roman times showing continuing use of the land in this area. Pudding Bag Wood may prove to be part of the ephemeral origins of the Neolithic utilisation of this part of Brighton.

An investigation of the depressions lying north and south of the earthwork may provide a more defined chronology for this enigmatic feature. A depression at the south end of the earthwork in Pudding Bag Wood actually cuts into the east side of the bank and is a distinctly later feature. One suggestion proposed during the excavation was that the features could be a form of open cast mining exploiting the clay and flint deposits.


Rocky Clump Stanmer

The excavations at Rocky began in late June and will continue during the winter months when possible. An area of 42M square was opened north of the existing trench to investigate anomalies produced in a geophysical survey of 1998.

A new third ditch running from east to west, possibly joining the large ditch running north to south, was one of the first features to be revealed. A number of large pits have also been uncovered and a large area of very dark fill in the east section of the trench tentatively suggests another building.

The dark area covers almost 20M square of the new trench and is currently being sectioned. A curved edge has been uncovered on the east side of the feature and a clear linear edge, probably of the large north south ditch on the west side. A possible flint wall footing has been found in the lower depths between these features running northward and clearly defining some form of boundary, with the dark fill to the east and a lighter chalky loam to the west.

Finds from this limited season have included a number of Roman coins, a silver coin of Henry VIII from the plough soil, and a cuneiform broach with red enamelling. A complete study of all the animal bone material from this excavation, up to 1999, has been completed by a student from Southampton University.

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Geophysics at Coldean Lane Car Park

A geophysical survey of the area was undertaken in June. The shrubbery had grown with some rapidity and to some extent restricted the size of the survey. The survey was also used as a training session for members of the unit under the direction of Bill Santer.

The results produced a series of low readings around the location of the know tumulus. However, the number of footpaths around the tumulus may have affected the results. A number of low readings indicating possible pits were also noted close to the tumulus. There were no signs of features .indicating that the Bronze Age settlement of Downsview continued in that direction.


John Funnell Greig I. 1997 'Excavations of a Bronze Age Settlement at Valley Halls, Coldean Lane, Brighton East Sussex.'Sussex Arch Colls,135, 7-58

Hamilton S. & Manley J. 1999 'Regional Traditions c.1000-100bc' in 'An Historical Atlas of Sussex.'

Rudling D. & Funnell J. 'Excavations at Downsview' in Rudling D.'Downland Settlement and Land Use:The Archaeology of the Brighton By-pass'.


Stretham Manor

The pottery from the original dig has been returned from Ireland. Mr. Mark Gardiner has amended his original pottery report to suit the additional pieces. A number of sherds have been passed to Mr Gary Bishop for illustration. The amended pottery report has been passed to Mrs. Doreen Richardson for editing into the final report.

All the remaining finds from the excavation have been boxed and catalogued for dispatch to Henfield Museum.




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