* Original Information
* added 21st June 2009
* added 23rd July 2009
* added 30th Sept 2009
* added 18th Nov 2009
Excavations at Rocky Clump 2009
The new season of excavations on the Roman site at Rocky Clump began
on Saturday 20th April. The new excavations are focused in two areas.
The north 'bones' trench and the east trench. The bones trench
measures 8 metres from east to west and only 2 metres from north to
south, but is a well defined series of archaeological layers readily
observed in the south facing baulk in 2008.
The layers have been systematically stripped one layer at a time, and
the finds recorded from each context. The finds have included
pottery, with quite a few sherds of undecorated samian, being
recovered. The name 'bones' is aptly named for this trench, as each
successive layer has produced significant quantities of butchered
bone including cow and sheep. Oyster shell has also been forthcoming
and the metal work has included a number of Roman nails and a bronze
pin which may be the latching part of a brooch. Perhaps the most
important finds have been several pieces of Roman roofing tile with a
large piece of tegula still retained in-situ in the west facing
baulk. The various distinct layers are beginning to reveal
chronological sequences of activity with a lower layer of deposited
chalk being the upcast from the digging of the large north/south
ditch, which itself has produced some very large cattle bones and
interesting black pottery.
The trench located in this part of the field drops dramatically to
over a metre in depth compared to the 50 centimetres over the rest of
the field. Close to the bottom of the various layers the excavations
have now revealed a flint cobbled surface which could be a wall,
floor or sealing layer. But covering what we must now ask? The
archaeological evidence so far is that a large feature was carved out
of the chalk bedrock and the floor/ sealing layer laid down. During
the creation of the north/south ditch the chalk upcast was deposited
onto the level area west of the cobbled floor. The final act was the
depositing of a series of even deposits laid down during the final
phase. Some of these layers were open for some time. A collection of
snails in the middle layer will be very useful in providing
environmental studies, giving a good indication of what kind of
countryside prevailed at this time.
The East trench is now down to chalk bedrock and cutting into this is
the known ditch that surrounds the trees at Rocky Clump. It is
uncertain when this ditch was created as a coin of both George III
and Trajan have both been found in the fills. A very large pit has
now been revealed west of the surrounding ditch and east of a
possible 'shrine' location. It will be interesting to see what is
recovered form this large hole in the ground.
A metal detecting survey around the excavation has produced a number
of coins dated to the late 3rd century and called barbarous radiates.
Other metal finds have included lead objects and a number of military
buttons including one which was issued to the 19th Light Dragoon
Regiment, which fought under Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) at
the Battle of Assaye, 23rd September 1803. This was one of the
bloodiest battles fought by Wellesley in India. Following the battle,
each regiment that fought in it was awarded an elephant as its badge.
Therefore this button dates post 1803. (Pers. Comm W.Santer).
A geophysical survey around the 'bones' trench has produced a new
series of interesting anomalies which will need to investigated in
the future. The excavations at Rocky Clump will continue until the
bones and east trenches are completed. The team will then assist
Assistant County Archaeologist Greg Chuter with his investigations at
Arlington for a week, before moving to the 13th century medieval site
at Ovingdean. It is expected that the Ovingdean excavations will
begin in late May or early June. It is planned to return to Rocky
Clump in the autumn.
The new season of excavations began at Rocky Clump, Stanmer in March.
This is the first phase of this years programme. At the end of last
season the regular plough soil depth had increased from about 50 cms
in depth to over a metre. The new south facing baulk had produced a
fascinating stratigraphy. The new extension to the 'bones' trench
measured only 8 metres in length and 2 metres in width and so it
proved quite easy to remove each successive layer in turn. The fills
proved to be a mixture of soft chalky loam, unpleasant clay with
flint, and lower depths of a soft beige/white silty soil. The finds
from the plough soil included a number of coins and brooches, and
other coins of late 3rd century barbarous radiates were found by
detecting in the soil a few metres further north of the new
extension. Each successive layer produced finds of Roman pottery and
marine shell. One layer produced quite large quantities of land
snails clearly indicating that this surface had remained open for
some time before further back filling had taken place. Large pieces
of Roman roofing tile were among the new finds and a 3rd century
roman disc brooch was recovered from the lower fills.
A new section of the large north/south ditch
was also being excavated at the same time, it being located west of
the deeper fills section. Both areas began to reveal large quantities
of butchered bone, mostly cow. The ditch revealed a large
concentration of bone, including the skull that may all prove to be
the same animal. The lower fills produced butchered bone in discrete
locations, and Samian ware pottery. The excavations finally came down
onto a floor of flint cobbles. At the west end of the floor is an
extremely large sarsen stone. The floor appears to be circular at the
west end and then increases in width as it disappears into the baulk
on the east side. The cobbled floor also disappears under the north
baulk, so there is still more to investigate.
The investigations show that the flint floor
was an earlier feature than the north/south ditch. The floor was
being covered by the fine silty soil in the first phase, and then the
construction of the large ditch allowed a section of overburden from
the upcast of this work to cover the first silty layer. This action
was followed by the covering of more silty soil over the floor and
upcast material. The better finds from this season were a large piece
of a roman glass vessel, and a Roman snake' ring. These items were
found close to the sarsen stone and lying on the cobbled floor.
The sections have now been drawn and the floor
surface has been planned. The BHAS field unit plan to return to Rocky
Clump in the late summer. The new investigations will begin to open
up new areas to the east and north of the existing cobbled floor.
In April members of the BHAS Field Unit conducted a resistivity
survey on the platform known as Piddingworth Manor. The medieval
manor is well documented and is a well defined platform with a series
of trackways leading down in the valley where it is located. The
remains of a large barn still have vestiges close by, and possibly
associated with the known manor. The central rectangular area is
about 60 metres in length and 40 metres in width. During a visit
several years ago, in a particularly dry summer, parch marks noted a
series of walls in the south section of the enclosure, and crop marks
clearly indicated a series of ditches running both north/south and
east/west. The survey used a TR systems machine and the images
created used 'snuffler' software.
Sadly the survey failed to find the expected walls and ditches, but a
number of interesting anomalies have been revealed, and it possible
that heavy ground disturbance by a herd of cows in this field has
obscured the features believe to be below the surface.
The BHAS summer walks have once again very
successful. Geoff Mead led large numbers around some of the
historical locations at Newhaven and Patcham, Dot McBrien took a
group around the Iron Age hill fort at Cissbury. This was particular
interesting as the evening produced a delightful rainbow, splendid
views of the Isle of Wight and a wandering badger in the hill-forts
lower embankment. The other walk was to the lovely churches at
Alciston and Berwick.
Excavations at Ovingdean 2009
Hog Croft Field , Ovingdean has in the field
north of St Wulfran's church was once the location of a 13th century
medieval manorial complex. The structures consisted of a church,
house, barns, a well and timber framed out buildings. A number of
trial excavations in the past few years has found features and finds
which have included pottery, bone shell and metalwork as well as
large pieces of dressed stone.
The new season of excavations started at Hog
Croft Field in June of this year. The new project will remove the
turf and top soil and investigate the medieval manor house partially
revealed in previous years. The earlier excavations had found
distinct differences in the north/east and south/west corners, which
tend to suggest quite a complex structure with several phases.
Dressed stone and carved chalk block had been found in the past and
the building does possess a cellar or 'undercroft' that contained
some sheep skeletons.
After the brief of works had been approved by
the County Archaeologists and Brighton City Council the excavations
began. Already the walls are appearing and as previously noted have a
variety of variations in widths and methods of construction. The
north/east corner is of a completely different type and style to the
rest of the building and is an obvious addition or renovation. The
early walls are 1.4 metres thick while the later phase walls are only
80cms thick. It has been noted in the south/west corner that there
are in fact two or three walls built one on top of the other, in
varying directions. The east wall varies in width with the more
substantial wall to the south/east. The middle of the east wall has a
clear break and some form of intervening ditch, which appears to
contain a large metal object, possible associated with a later phase
of construction, this has stained the large flint nodules lying below.
The north/west corner has its own complexity
where the width of the wall drops dramatically from 1.4 metres in
width to only a metre. Later tiles and mortar can be seen adhering to
the wall surface, showing some sign of re-use. A well preserved floor
constructed of large beach pebbles has been revealed over much of the
inner house surface, but this is a later floor and not the bottom of
the medieval cellar which is much deeper.
The finds from this season have included
several nice pieces of medieval pottery, some bone; marine shell and
lots of tile much of it modern, but with a number of medieval pieces
in the collection. The cellar was later used as a rubbish tip during
the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. This year we have
already found coins from Charles II and George III. The Young
Archaeologist Club (YAC's) has visited the site twice this year,
joining the BHAS Field Unit in their excavations is something they
always enjoy doing.
The excavations will continue until September.
Once the walls have all been revealed and planned we will then move
onto the next stage. The second phase of this seasons dig will
investigate the lower depths of the manor house cellar. The site is
located close to the road and visitors are welcome.
The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society
Field Unit returned to Ovingdean in June. The focus of this year's
endeavours was to be the medieval manor house. Excavations in the
past had uncovered both the north/east and south/west corners of the
house, and the trenches had revealed a distinct difference in wall
thickness and style of construction. The new season would uncover all
of the walls and investigate the sheep skeletons found in a sondage
cut in 2003 into the cellar.
It proved to be a very busy season with many
new faces joining the team. The walls were revealed and did vary in
width from wall to wall. The thickest part of the building was on the
north side, where a door cill indicates the entrance. The additional
thickness may indicate a more elaborate north frontage. The thickness
of the walls does tend to suggest that the building had an upper
floor. The number of medieval roofing tiles show clearly show how the
house was covered, and several pieces of carved chalk show that this
material was used as part of the construction, some still in-situ,
showing that the soft material was even used for corner stones.
The interior of the cellar proved to be filled
with building debris consisting of grit, mortar and large flints. The
absence of large flints in the upper levels may suggest that the
flint nodules were being stripped of their surrounding mortar and re-used,
effectively making the interior a work shop. The outer chalk surface
surrounding the house was cut by a number of sondages and proved to
be a fill rather than natural. The fill of the sondages produced
finds of bone, shell and pottery and in one location a medieval plumb bob.
The cellar floor was eventually revealed and
proved to be of compacted chalk. The sheep skeletons proved to be two
of a number of creatures and a large pile of bones was uncovered
nestling against the north wall of the cellar. The animals buried
included sheep and goat, some with very large horns, several dogs and
a ferret, perhaps an indicator of hunting. The bones are currently
being examined. A medieval dripping pan was found on the cellar
floor, and a large pit inexplicably cut into the floor produced some
very large pieces of medieval pottery.
The house, despite being very large, was built
on very unstable ground and it is possible that a layer of large
flint nodules above the animal burials was the action of the house
collapsing on that side. Another floor, built above the building
rubble, was constructed using large beach pebbles from the sea shore,
and later bricks clearly show some renovation activity. The original
walls were later used for the foundation of a lower status farm
building or animal enclosure. Its final use during the Georgian and
Victorian periods was as a rubbish pit.
The excavations will close at the end of
September and the site will be back filled. The finds from the
excavation will be part of the BHAS finds processing days during the
Excavation at Hove Lawns
In September of 2009 the Brighton and Hove
Archaeological Society were asked by the Brighton Regency House
Society to participate in their Heritage events. Brunswick Town was
constructed from around 1820 and the imposing buildings were home to
some very eminent people. A number of years ago Southern Water while
cutting a trench across the west section of Hove Lawns uncovered a
very large Georgian/Victorian rubbish pit. Nick Tyson from the
Regency House asked if the society could conduct a resistivity survey
of Hove lawns and seek the location of any other rubbish pits close
to Brunswick Square. If the survey proved successful a small
excavation was planned to investigate any possible rubbish pit and
hopefully recover artefacts that could be associated with a house in
the square, of particular interest would have been wine seals which
had the name of the householder stamped on them.
In early September David Staveley and a team of
volunteers conducted a survey which consisted of 7 grids measuring 20
metres square. The survey was conducted using a magnetometer. The
results of the survey were quite stunning (Fig 1.). The following
week a small group of diggers, J.Funnell, Bill Santer, Stephie
Freiling and Beth Clements excavated a 1 metre square trench in Hove
Lawns immediately south of Brunswick Square. One of a number of
anomalies was picked out by David Staveley as having the potential
for being a rubbish pit.
The turf was carefully removed and the
excavation started. Finds from immediately below the turf included
glass, bone, oyster shells, a piece of clay pipe and a piece of
Willow Pattern plate. The layer below this proved to be a solid layer
of chalk. The surface of Hove Lawns had been landscaped after
Brunswick town had been completed and the chalk is believed to be as
a part of this process.
The final hour saw the break through the chalk
layer and a small section came down, not as expected into a Georgian
rubbish pit, but into something more important. The excavation had
uncovered a layer of burning, dust, slate and debris associated with
the phase before Brunswick Town. Before the houses had been built the
land between the town of Brighton and the small village of Hove was
used in the brick making industry.
The day was extremely busy with lots of
interest from passersby, day trippers and other locals and tourists.
We were delighted to have the assistance of Elaine Evans who
constantly informed the interested public of what we were up to and
what we were hoping to find. A report will be published and passed to