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
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
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
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.