* Original Information April 2002
* New late April 2002 (as featured in the
* July 2002
* 7th Sept 2002
* 28th Sept 2002 Rocky Clump Geophysics
* 25th November 2002 Brighton Roman Villa (Next
* 15th January 2003 Final Thoughts at Rocky Clump
Geophysics at Ovingdean
The geophysical information has been passed to the County
Archaeologist. A study was made of the information using the County's
sophisticated technology, but anomalies are very ephemeral. There
were a number of interesting areas, but the survey failed to produce
well defined features. It may prove to be that the site has been
ploughed away. A small excavation may provide further information.
The Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society
Field Unit began working in the field north of Ovingdean church on
Saturday 30th March. The field has been the subject of a geophysical
survey on a number of occasions producing areas of extremely high
resistance with clearly defined linear arrangements (see
pictures and addtional info). The
nature of the readings form some type of enclosure, with lines
running away from, and parallel to the north wall of the church.
The excavation has been organised to
investigate the anomalies found on the resistivity survey. A total of
5 trenches have been cut to answer a number of questions. Are the
anomalies walls and floors, and if so what period do they date from.
The excavations have produced very interesting
results. The trenches have uncovered a number of well constructed
flint walls, probably footings for buildings, with smaller flint
walls for ancillary buildings. One trench has a substantial flint
constructed feature, with a curved outer wall. A large cobbled area
within the compound may be the location of a courtyard. A possible
well may also have been found, but excavations continue and further
evidence may confirm this. The small excavation suggests that a
substantial building may have stood in the field during the medieval period.
Finds from the various pits have included
medieval pottery, including 13th century green glazed wares, bone,
oyster shells and some metal work. A few pieces of dressed stone and
a piece or medieval ribbed roofing tile, hint that the building had
Local historian John Davies has suggested that
the field, close to the church, could be the location of a 'thegnly'
manor. An examination of the walls by archaeologist Chris Butler has
placed the building of the walls at not later than the 13th century
and probably earlier. It was during the 14th to 15th century that the
medieval presence moved down the slope of the hill to Ovingdean
Grange, and it is very possible that the original building was robbed
of building materials for the creation of the new house. The results
of the excavation will be published at a later date and the finds
deposited with Brighton Museum.
The residents of Ovingdean have been regular
visitors to the site. An added bonus to the excavation is that the
tenant farmer, Mr David Baker, who also gave permission for the
excavation, regularly trains his group of cart horses adorned in all
their refinery in the same field.(see
The Field Unit conducted an excavation of 7
trial trenches in the field known as Hogs Croft Ovingdean. The object
of the investigation was to determine the nature of the high
resistance readings found during the geophysical surveys conducted in
1986, 1991 and 1999.
Every trench produced archaeological features
and artefacts. The investigation revealed floors, walls and large
areas of tumbled flint; a chalk platform was recorded on the east
side of the site. Finds included pottery, bone, molluscs, a spindle
whorl, metal work of various descriptions (including an axe), and
jewellery of 19th century date.
A significant site dated to the l2th/l3th
century lies beneath this field at Ovingdean. The artefacts are being
processed and an interim report will be drafted within the next eight weeks.
Geophysics at Duddleswell
The Field Unit assisted Chris Greatorex with his study of a garden
behind the tea rooms at Duddleswood, in Ashdown Forest. The garden
was examined in two areas together with part of a neighbour's garden;
the gardens are crossed by a known Roman road.
The results from the survey produced a significant number of high
readings, enough to confirm that the road is located where
anticipated. A group of the Unit walked through scrub to Duddleswell
church and found that the Roman road continues as an agger and
flanking ditches for some distance.
Geophysics at West Burton, West Sussex.
In February the Field Unit carried out a large geophysical survey at
West Burton, West Sussex. The project was at the request of Mr David
Shears a local historian from that area. The area investigated is
thought to be the site of a deserted Medieval village (DMV), and lies
close to the church.
The examination of the area over the Christmas period showed a number
of earthworks and mole hills produced significant quantities of
pottery and tile. The survey produced a series of really interesting
readings, and Andrew Woodcock has suggested that some of these could
show building configurations. An extension to the survey is planned
for the coming season.
The Field Unit have been contacted regarding an
extension to the survey already conducted. A new survey is planned
for late July or early August.
Several members of the team have been
conducting a geophysical survey of lands around the church at West
Burton, West Sussex. The site is the possible location of a deserted
medieval village (DMV). The day was also used as a training exercise
for new members of the team and those wishing to enhance their
The results were downloaded using our new soft
ware from Geoscan and a new software developed by a member of the
geophysical team, David Staveley. The results have produced a number
of linear anomalies (see
pictures in gallery). Dr Andrew
Woodcock has suggested that the survey conducted by the unit during
the earlier part of the year had platforms that may be associated
with medieval buildings. The figures have been passed to David Shears
of the West Burton group, whether further archaeological
investigation is undertaken will be determined by the West Burton
team. Details of the project will be passed to West Sussex Sites and
Monuments Records (SMR).
Excavations at Rocky Clump
The Field Unit have taken advantage of some good weather to begin
removing a new section of top soil, north of the existing
excavations. The existing open area has been subjected to some frost
damage and this has restricted access, until the warmer weather dries
out the ground.
A flint concentration is already being observed on the east side of
the new area suggesting yet another floor layer. The area between
this cobbling and the chalk bedrock on the west side is a soft fill
of chalky loam. The 2001 geophysical survey suggested that this is a
very disturbed area and the archaeology tends to confirm this.
Excavations at Rocky Clump continue with
priority given to the planning of a section drawing of the deep
trenches. The drawing activities are being used for the training of
BHAS personnel. New post holes have been revealed in the new section
north of the existing site. The excavations will continue throughout
the summer despite a number of the Unit being asked to assist the
MSFAT team with their excavations at Barcombe.
The flint floor' on the baulk is now fairly
well established, as in context 525 it appears to have sunk sunk into
the centre section, which is the soft fill of the large ditch. Going
north, the ditch and terrace west boundary were found, the east side
is still being sought, this should prove easier now that the south
facing section drawing has now been completed and the remaining baulk
on the north side can be removed. The centre baulk is producing finds
of pottery and bone, and can be removed with a clearly defined
stratigraphy. The deep planning of the south section is now complete
leaving only the remaining planning on the north deep section.
Excavations at Rocky Clump have concentrated on
the large remaining baulk section. The well stratified layers are
being removed in chronological sequence. The first feature to be
removed was the large north/south ditch fill. This fill is a soft
black silty layer and has produced pottery, including part of a butt
beaker, animal bone, consisting of both cattle skull and pelvic
sections and a number of oyster shells. The ditch fill has produced a
beautiful brooch dated to the 1st century A.D. Parts of this ditch
fill are still being removed. The layers below consist of chalky loam
comprising a mixture of medium chalk nodules and small flint pieces.
Large pottery pieces have been found in this lower strata, but are as
A news section of trench has been uncovered, 4
metres north of the existing excavation and it appears that the very
large pit presently being excavated has grown even wider as it
progresses north. The new pit is now almost 8 metres in width. A
number of features on the east side of the pit may prove to be post
holes, and are awaiting sectioning. The excavation will continue
throughout the autumn until the weather deteriorates.
Finds processing is being organised for the
autumn and winter months. Finds from both Ovingdean and Rocky Clump
will be processed, and volunteers are encouraged to come along for
hands on marking and cataloguing of artefacts from both excavations.
As a result of the geophysics from September
23rd there are three pictures, one is the non-flattened results, the
second is a flattened version which shows up the ditches better and
the third is an interpretation (provisional only).
Geophysics Interpretations from Sept 2002 survey
"Non-Flattened" Geophysics Plot from Sept 2002
"Flattened" Geophysics Plot from Sept 2002
All the features marked are low resistance as
nothing of high resistance shouts wall!
There are a couple of rectangular features near
the clump, several boundary ditches and a few possible round houses
around the ditched area.
Geologically, there is an interesting change
near the bottom of the survey, and also there are a whole heap of
black blobs, which are probably something like solution or clay with flints.
Much Samian was found around the middle of the
survey, roughly between the rectangular and round features, along
with a small pile of the usual sort of pot we would find at the
clump. There was even a piece of tile with plaster on it!
The season at Rocky Clump closed on 31st December
with a magnetometer survey of the field to the east of the copse at
Rocky Clump. The survey found a new ditch moving in a circular
direction, parallel to the inner ditch surrounding the trees. The
survey failed to find a distinct pattern of post-holes for a
rectangular building indicating a settlement site.
During this season a major resistivity survey was
carried out in the south field and a smaller area in the north field
totalling 18.800 square metres. Using both the recently purchased
Geoscan software, and the software developed by David Staveley, has
resulted in an enhanced and detailed survey of this large area (see
picture). The geophysics has revealed a vast number of low readings,
indicating either post- holes pits or geological solution hollows.
There is no clear definition of any rectangular building as excavated
in the past 5 seasons, but enough features to produce any number of
circular configurations suggestive of Iron Age round houses. One
particular area has a hint of a possible ring gully? It would appear
that only assessment excavation can actually determine whether the
low readings are post holes or solution.
"Flattened" Geophysics Plot
"Non-Flattened" Geophysics Plot
The main excavation has revealed a very complex
area of large pits, sealed by flint floors, a rich silty north/south
ditch contained a large selection of butchered animal bone. Among the
pottery were a number of pieces of indented beaker and the metal
finds included a bronze depressing tool, a brooch and a number of hob nails.
The chronology or sequence of creation of the
various pits is being analysed, but it is clear that the main
north/south ditch had a number of phases. This large feature is
joined by another ditch running east/west, this ditch widens
dramatically as it joins the other. At the junction of the two
ditches is a large pit and into this pit runs a small gully.
The pits were back filled over a period of time
with each successive layer being systematically sealed with a flint
layer. It is not possible to determine whether this sealing had a
ritual or purely functional purpose. The reason for the pits is
difficult to understand, they may be part of complex of marling pits,
for removing the acidity of the upper layers of clay soil, they may
be rubbish pits, or marl pits later used as such. The pits do not cut
the large north/south ditch on its west side but open up onto it.
They are all at the same depth level which may hint at some unknown
The finds from this small area have included a
number of peculiar burials and other sequences that do hint at
ritualistic rather than common waste usage. The cow burial, the dog
burial, now according to Jeremy Adams at the Booth Museum an almost
certain pet burial, lie very close to the other burials of a cow
skull over winkle shells, and a sheep skull over oyster shell
deposits. These earlier finds certainly hint at some form of ritual activity. (see
Rocky Clump is proving to be a very interesting
excavation and the large ditch and new areas of pit features will
provide new areas of interest for next season.