Geophysics at Ovingdean
During the latter part of October and November
members of the BHAS Field Unit conducted a geophysical survey at
fields near the village of Ovingdean. A field walking exercise in
1999 located significant concentrations of pottery dated to the Iron
Age and Roman periods. A note on the sites and Monuments Records
(SMR) notes Roman pottery found on a previous occasion.
The survey was conducted over 7200 square metres
and during the survey quantities of pottery, including Samian ware
were recovered. The results from the survey are very ephemeral and do
not produce evidence for villa remains in the area surveyed, however
a number of circular features may prove to be evidence of Iron Age
round houses. The survey will continue in the spring and a small
excavation may be planned for the future to examine the circular
anomalies. (see pictures)
Geophysics at Chichester
The BHAS Field Unit joined with the Chichester
and District Archaeological Society on Saturday 7th July, to conduct
a geophysical survey north of Chichester. A Roman road is known to
run northwards from the ancient Roman town of Noviamagus, but little
trace has been found of it.
Houses along Lavant Road have gardens that may
be cut by the road, after kind permission was granted from the house
owners, a resisitivity survey was conducted over an area of 350
square metres. The readings tend to show that an area of high
intensity is located in these gardens which may indeed show the main
feature itself, the data processing is being undertaken to determine
whether the side drainage ditches can also be located.
The survey produced a considerable amount of
high readings in both gardens. An area of particularly high readings
was found in the west square at number 11 Lavant Road and high
readings continued eastwards, although these were less intense.
However, the readings were of a dispersed configuration and did not
conform to a linear pattern which would have suggested a road type
feature running from north to south. Similarly the garden at No 51
produced significantly high readings, but again in a very dispersed
arrangement . Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the results from
No 11 Lavant Road is that they may suggest a linear arrangement
proceeding in an east/west alignment. No traces of flanking ditches
were found in either survey. The results from the survey tend to
suggest geological anomalies rather than archaeological, but one
other consideration could be that the building materials from the
road have been removed and used elsewhere.
BHAS Field Unit at Barcombe
All members of the unit are requested to join
the Mid-Sussex Field Team at Barcombe until further notice, as the
excavation is proving to be far more extensive than previously
anticipated. Excavations at Rocky Clump should begin again in late
August when Barcombe concludes. (see
Update on Geophysics at New
The graphical output from the resistivity
survey at Old Place suggests that the extensive wall features were
indeed linked to the main house at one time. A further set of high
readings may provide evidence for another building or features under
the west lawn.
Update on Geophysics at
The geophysical survey at Beedings, near
Pulborough, failed to find the anticipated ditch running close to the
house. The nature of the readings suggest that there is very little
archaeology in the way of features in that area. However, a watching
brief is being planned for the area of land where an extension is
being added to the house (see
photo and geophysics).
Geophysics at New Place, Pulborough
The BHAS Field Unit conducted a geophysical survey
in the gardens of New Place Pulborough during early June of this
year. The house probably dates to the Tudor period or earlier and is
constructed of stone. The garden wall contains a number of areas of
significant stonework and it suggests that a hall or additional
building may have originally been attached to the existing building.
The geophysical survey was to examine the area adjacent to the house
to search for high resistance indicating the location of possible
walls. The information is currently being processed and should the
results prove positive then a small excavation is being planned to
determine the nature and age of features revealed.
Excavations at Stanford Avenue Brighton
During April 2001 the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society Field
Unit conducted a small excavation in the garden of a house at the
lower (west) end of Stanford Avenue, Brighton. The site lies close,
within 200 metres, to the location of the known Roman villa.
The assessment trench measured 5 metres by 2.5 metres. The area was
excavated down to a level 1.1 metres deep where the natural chalk was
encountered. A bed of flint nodules lay immediately above the chalk
bedrock and was while excavating these nodules in the 19th century
for building materials that the villa site was first found.
The small area was very heavily disturbed with a distinct double
layer of top soil added at some period in the past. The section cut
through a childrens sand pit still with toys of the 1970's period in
situ. A trench had been cut through the garden going north to south
with a lower deposit of contemporary tiles. A hard slag floor was
The finds were mainly of 19th and 20th century items, but 5 sherds of
Roman and 1 thumbed Medieval piece were recovered. No features other
than natural depressions were recorded in the trench bottom. The
sections are currently being drawn and the site will then be back filled.
Excavations continues at Rocky Clump and will
carry on until the end of the year. The sections removed so far have
revealed a terrace on the east side of the trench, cut into the
natural chalk. The terrace has a circular cut and may prove to be a
possible round house. A pit/post hole has been cut into the lower
fills producing significant quantities of bone, including a number of
animal skulls. Samian ware has been found in a north/south ditch that
cuts across the terrace on the west side of the trench. The 'wall'
feature found in 2000 lies above this ditch and runs parallel to it .
The section produced so fare clearly shows that the north south ditch
cuts into the fill of the terraced area clearly making the terrace a
much earlier feature. Examination of the finds during the winter
months should produce accurate dating for the features. New
volunteers have joined the group during the late summer and more can
The large ditch running south to north produced a
complete articulated burial of a Romano-British dog.
A large pit on the north side of the excavation
produced a complete cow burial. The animal had been bound at the feet
when deposited in the large pit. The surrounding area has a number of
pits and terraces cut into the natural chalk bedrock.(see
The new season at Rocky Clump has concentrated on
the features already revealed. The large ditch running from west to
east has been excavated and has found to contain a number of re-cuts.
The ditch increases in depth and width as it joins the ditch running
from south to north. The ditch running from south to north is also
increasing in width as it moves north and down the hill, the ditch is
cut by a number of pits that post date it and the ditch itself cuts
an earlier very large pit running east to west. The new pit measures
over 2.5 metres wide and is over a metre in depth. The upper section
of this pit had been cut by a smaller pit containing quantities of
samian pottery, this same pit, when excavated 'bottomed' down on to
an articulated skeleton of a cow, see above.
The site is providing important evidence into the
agricultural activities of the Roman period in this part of the
country. It would appear from what has been revealed so far, that
cattle enclosures or buildings may have been cut into the chalk
rather than have standing buildings above ground.
The large north/south ditch has produced a
significant collection of finds including disarticulated bone
including considerable quantities of jaw bone, oyster shell, pottery
and large iron nails. A number of small finds of bronze include a
strap with a diamond shape perforation.
The stratigraphy is proving quite complex. The
large pit with the cow burial clearly continues towards the north,
with the edge readily defined. A platform on the south section of the
trench is still a peculiar feature and will not be explained until
the central baulk is removed. The cuts into the chalk are quite
significant and are obviously more than rough cut 'midden' sections.
Hints of flint cobbled 'flooring' continue in several areas and the
'wall' feature, probably robbed in the past, appears to continue in
the new section being opened.
Geophysics at Rocky Clump
A new survey around the excavated area was
conducted in November of 2001. The survey produced the clearest
images so far at Rocky Clump. The known ditches running from east to
west were beautifully portrayed and it can be observed that they link
with another large ditch running north to south on the west side of
the field. The area of the cow burial is distinctly shown as a large
area of low readings and this feature continues north, an extension
to the existing site is indeed confirming further features, and a
large pit is noted at the west junction of the ditches providing
areas for further examination in the future.
GEOPHYSICS AT BINSTEAD, WEST SUSSEX
During the past 2 years the Worthing
Archaeological Society have been conducting excavations on a site
close to the village of Binstead, West Sussex . This year the
Worthing Society asked for the assistance of the Brighton and Hove
Field Unit in conducting a geophysical survey prior to the
commencement of excavations for the this years programme. The object
of the exercise was to try and locate archaeological features prior
to excavation. The excavations in 2000 had located a wall feature,
probably associated with a known medieval tile kiln close by. A large
ditch cuts across the west side of the field running north to south,
a bank associated with the ditch is clearly defined. The ditch has
been dated to the Iron Age.
The opportunity was given for members of the
Worthing Society to become proficient in the use of the RM15
resistivity equipment, and a training programme became part of the
The results of the survey were very diverse. A
concentration of high readings on the west side of the field produced
no significant configuration, allowing no identification of
archaeological features. An extremely set of high readings were found
close to the field boundary among the hedgerow, however some form of
hardened surface associated with the proximity of the road surface
may have accounted for this difference. At Ovingdean the cattle ruts
in a field produced significant areas of low readings close to the
field boundary wall associate with water retention, the opposite
effect may be happening at Binstead. A significant area of low
readings were produced running close to the area of the Iron age
ditch, and the Worthing Society considered that their previous
excavations may also have contributed to the area of low readings.
UNDERGROUND CHAMBER FOUND AT ROEDEAN
A watching brief being conducted at a house
extension in Roedean, in February of this year, was organised to seek
out evidence and record features and artefacts related to the
Neolithic and Roman periods. After the topsoil had been stripped a
large concrete slab was uncovered. A breach was made in the 12"
thick concrete and an underground cavern revealed. The chamber,
totally unknown before, measures 10 feet square (3.04M), it has a
number of alcoves and a central sump going to a depth of 24".
From the central chamber ran three narrow passages leading to sets of
iron treads going up and out through trap doors. The trap doors had
been sealed with concrete to prevent access. One of the passages led
out and under the existing house ending at a series of steps leading
upwards. The existing house was built in 1937. Inside the chamber
were a number of contemporary items including recent electrical
conduit, electrical fuse boxes and an 'air filtration unit'? (See
The discovery has left a number of unanswered
questions, when was it constructed who built it and what purpose did
it serve? The unit appears to be some form of air raid shelter or
secret hideout. As the house standing was built in 1937 it would make
the chamber a possible 1st World War item, unless it was abandoned
after its construction during the early 1930's prior to the 2nd World
War. The Royal Navy did have some association with nearby Roedean
School during the 2nd World War when the school was used as a
training establishment. Another possibility is that the underground
hideout is part of the secret 'listening' posts created and hidden to
allow subversive actions to take place in Brighton in the event of a
successful Nazi invasion
Mr Ron Martin of the Brighton and Hove
Industrial Society is endeavouring to seek out further information,
but if anyone has knowledge about this unusual feature or others that
are similar, then the BHAS would dearly like to hear from them.