Founded 1906

BHAS Field Unit Archive 2010


Home Page


About Us

Archaeology Reports

Contact Us



Field Unit


Lecture Programme

Picture Gallery


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

* added 3rd July 2010

* added 18th Sept 2010

* added 10th November 2010

Rocky Clump 2010 (May Report)

The new season of excavations at Rocky Clump began in March. The days currently being worked are Saturdays and Wednesdays from 10-00am till 5-00pm.

The season has focused on the 'bones trench' where a flint cobbled surface was uncovered last season. The flint floor was literally covered in butchered animal bone, and other artefacts that included brooches, Roman glass and a finger ring. The area is being cleaned and it has been observed that during the winter months a circular section of the floor has 'sunk' a few centimetres. It is possible that the feature is a Roman well and it is planned to cut a section through to seek evidence to confirm this.

In the east trench the area has been expanded and has revealed a large collection of sarsen stones, which appear to cover a pit of some description. Finds from this area have so far included quantities of bone and oyster shell, and a number of pieces of Roman samian ware.

A new trench is currently being opened inside the copse of trees. The new area measuring 8 metres by 4 metres is to seek out other graves not found in the early excavations. Any new graves will hopefully provide grave goods to effectively date the known cemetery. The cemetery was believed to be Saxon by the previous excavators, but this is based on topographical evidence only, with no actual supportive archaeological evidence.

A new area is about to be surveyed using a RM15 resistivity machine. A new trench in this south field will seek evidence for the settlement associated with the other rural and possible religious features already uncovered. The excavations will continue until early July.

The new season of excavations began in March and the main focus of investigation was on the flint cobbled floor and possible well. The excavations removed more fill and revealed a continuation of the flint surface. The trench was extended 4 metres to the east where the floor finally terminated. However, it does continue, under the baulk and below the spoil heap going southwards. The well was excavated down to flint level and then planned and recorded. The removal of part of the cobbled floor beneath a section that had noticeably sunk over the winter period showed that the feature was not a well, as it came down onto a natural layer of orange/yellow clay. The large sarsen stone lies at the westward end of this feature. Finds from these lower depths, above the geology, have included Roman pottery and copious amounts of butchered animal bone. Among the bone finds were large cattle leg bones and a cow pelvis. The final recording and drawing will be concluded before the bones trench is closed down. One particularly annoying feature was a solitary double post hole found beneath the cobbled surface.

New trenches have been opened up within the trees at Rocky Clump seeking a previously untouched burial, which would be extremely useful in producing carbon dating for the remains. At present none has yet been revealed, but one area is located close to the previously excavated cemetery and has some potential. Work is continuing in this location.

The east trench has now been completed and has been prolific with its finds which have included several pieces of samian, which may be one vessel, and large amounts of oyster shell, and these are still eroding from the trench side. A small extension to this trench is planned before we move off to the excavations at Varley Halls.

A geophysical survey of the field to the north of the bones trench produced a number of interesting anomalies. A number of small test trenches have been cut to examine the features and already one expanded trench has revealed a new large Roman ditch running northwards, and cut into this ditch a flint packed post hole. Clearly the archaeology does continue in that direction.

The current excavations at Rocky Clump in the north field will gradually wind down as we begin the excavations at Varley Halls and Peacehaven. BHAS do intend to return to Rocky Clump in October when the excavations will begin in the south field. The new dig will seek evidence for the settlement associated with the farming activities found in the north field.


Excavations at Varley Halls 2010

The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society joined Lisa Fisher from Sussex University in a dig on the Bronze Age location at Varley Halls. The excavation was carried out over a 6 week period and was to investigate geophysical anomalies found in surveys conducted in 1992 and 2009. The area is close to the large excavation conducted in 1992 and directed by Ian Greig. The site revealed a number of features including ditches and Bronze Age round house platforms, there was also a child burial. BHAS conducted a geophysical survey on the lands surrounding the excavation and produced anomalies that suggested new possible round house and other less distinct features. The fields around Varley Halls have been field walked by the Society and published in SAC. The field walking produced Neolithic and Bronze Age flint work and Iron Age and Roman pottery.

In 2008 Lisa Fisher directed an excavation in the field to the west of the new excavation and revealed a possible prehistoric trackway leading down to a possible pond like feature. The new excavations are to the north of the Varley Halls student complex and are subject to possible development.

A large trench was opened measuring 20 metres square, but initial trial trenching showed that the depth of soil was too deep for the 6 week period allowed, and subsequently a number of smaller trenches were sunk as an alternative. The most easterly section produced evidence for a linear feature which Lisa believed to be a negative lynchet or field boundary. The lower depths of this feature produced a number of distinct layers, clearly defined in the sections, but the finds from this feature were literally all contemporary, although no modern digging in this area is known about.

A section was cut through the 1992 geophysical anomaly which appeared to show the profile of a cutting for a round house. The feature proved to be similar in section to round house sections found at the Bronze Age settlement located only 0.5 kilometre away, but the linear nature of this feature tends to suggest that it is also a negative lynchet. Finds from this area were quite numerous and consisted mainly of Bronze Age flint work, but quite a few pieces of Bronze Age pottery, including decorated pieces were recovered.

Trenches cut into a smaller field to the north of the main excavation proved fruitless, with no geophysical anomalies being encountered and only natural chalk being revealed. A new trench was opened during the final week to investigate the first two lynchet features found in the earlier trenches, and to seek the point where they met. It proved to be even more complex than anticipated. The area produced a new collection of fire-cracked flint and flint flakes, but the trench was not large enough to appreciate what had been created during prehistoric times.

The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society is planning to return to Varley Halls in late September to seek out and determine what is happening with the field system boundaries. The excavation will continue until early December.


Excavations at Peacehaven 2010

The BHAS Field unit returned to Peacehaven in September 2010 for a new excavation of the barrow that is about to erode away into the sea. The cliff edge is now only a few metres away. The south side of the barrow is much too close to the edge to investigate, but this season BHAS along with the members from MSFAT investigated the north/east quadrant. The excavation was directed by Susan Birks, and it was Susan who directed the earlier excavation of the north/west quadrant in 2008. The turf was removed by a digger and below it the geology is a fine, silty sand. Flint flakes were sieved from the soils removed during the turf removal to ensure that very little was lost. The barrow consisted of a series of layers of flint flakes, with a few cores and even less flint tools. Fire cracked flint was among the finds and pottery from the Bronze Age. The barrow contained a number of small pits cut into it which contained burned stone, but sadly no burial or cremated bone was found. The flint layers eventually came down onto a hard clay lower deposit deemed to be the natural surface. This was later proved when the backfilling digging machine cut through the clay to seek lower deposits but found none. The ditch surrounding the barrow was found this season, it had proved elusive during the 2008 excavations, and was found to be quite wide.

The excavation was well supported during the whole of the fortnight, despite quite inclement weather and a driving wind. It possible that the barrow did have a central burial, but if so it would have been disturbed and removed when the Second World War nissen hut was constructed in the centre of the mound. However, reports from other barrow excavations have found no associated burials, so this one could be either. BHAS are indebted to Susan Birks for organising the excavation and for inviting the field unit to join her. Finds processing during the winter of 2010/2011 will process much of the flint work from this excavation.




About Us



Field Unit






Contact Us