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
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
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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