The lands that lie to the south of the
Woodingdean cemetery, and that are scheduled to be part of the
cemetery extension, were noted to have a number of subtle earthworks.
The land has been pasture and grassland for some considerable time. A
study of the fields to the south of the designated cemetery extension
are regularly ploughed and cropped. A study of aerial photographs of
this field have noted a number of linear features and other soil
marks that may be associated with ancient field systems. A tumuli is
noted on the top of the hill to the south named Mount Pleasant, but
has subsequently been ploughed away. A small Roman farmstead lies in
this ploughed field and has been examined by metal detectorists in
the past (pers. comm.) The site of the Roman dwelling is apparantly
very visible after the field has been ploughed.
The cemetery south field has a number of
distinct features including both curved and linear configurations. A
large circular feature is the known location of a possible road
surface destined at one time to be the boundary of a Jewish cemetery.
A linear feature running across the field from north/west to
south/east is probably a lynchet and earlier field boundary. An
underground water pipe crosses the field in the south/west section of
the field and a number of metalled plates indicate its location.
Other features include some very subtle lynchet style linear
earthworks and a number of depressions and terrace like incursions
into the hillside.
In April and May of 2004 the BHAS geophysics
team, under the leadership of Norman Phippard and David Staveley,
conducted a resistivity survey of a significant part of the cemetery
extension area. A contour survey was also undertaken by Roy Pateman
using his total station. Another survey in a number of grid squares
examined the metal detecting potential for some sections of the
field. The scale of the survey allowed the use of two geophyscical
machines, an RM15 resitivity meter and a TR Systems machine. The
field was set out in a number of 20 metre square grids. The readings
were measured in Ohms and the readings were taken at 1 metre intervals.
The resistivity survey results and images were
produced using David Staveleys 'Snuffler' software. The survery has
produced a number of anomalies of both high and low resistance. The
boundary road is very well defined as an area of extremely high
resistance (see Fig1
The results are currently being studied with a
view to conducting a number of assessment trenches, to determine the
nature and dating of the features. The use of the land for a cemetery
site means that it is a rescue operation, any archaeology is likely
to be destroyed by the cutting of the new graves. The metal detecting
exercise produced a significant number of metal readings, but no
incursions were made into the turf to determine what the readings had
identified, but it is possible that the large number or readings
could be attributed to nails from old fence lines.
Perchinghill Barn lies in a small valley to the
south of the scarp of the South Downs between Edburton and Fulking.
The actual barn is now derelict. In this same valley are a number of
earthworks located close to the valley bottom . These earthworks are
a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and it is believed to be the site
of a deserted medieval village. (DMV). To the north of the site,
lying on the crest of the scarp, is the site of a Norman motte and
bailey castle. The castle is an ancient reminder to the conquered
Saxon community that the Normans were now the lords of the county.
A trackway running along the west end of the
valley is an ancient road and part of an ancient 'strip' parish
boundary. It would have been that along this trail pigs would have
been herded into the dark forests of The Weald for foraging and
clearing the scrub and undergrowth.
In the lands below the scarp of the Downs and
the castle lies a moated site, with deep ditches and large banks,
part of perhaps another medieval landscape and the Norman church,
with possible Saxon vestiges, of Edburton lies to the west. Perching
has a much documented history (pers. Comm. K.Edgar) and is being
studied by a number of students.
The earthworks at Perchinghill Barn have a
number of raised platforms and incursive cuts, creating terraces cut
into the hillside. A flint wall 0.7M in width and in places 1M high
with buttresses at a number of locations runs up from the site on the
east side. The wall continues in a westerly direction just below the
crest of the hill. At the west end of the wall it can be observed
that it is built over a large earthwork before terminating. This
earthwork appears to be the perimeter of a much older enclosure.
The Perchinghill barn earthworks have a number
of pits and depressions lying between the various platforms. In March
of this year the geophysical team, under the leadership of David
Staveley conducted a resisitivity survey of a number of grids over
the site and up the side of the hill to the south. The survey is for
part of a historical dissertation for Karol Eager, a member of the
BHAS team studying at Sussex University.
A small plane tabling contour survey was also
carried out in the main area of disturbance.
The results of the survey (Fig
1 and Fig
2) clearly indicate that walls
and features lie beneath the surface of the earthworks, particularly
within the mounds. Other linear areas of low resistance may indicate
the location of ditches. It is not possible to date the features from
the geophysical survey alone, and only excavation could determine a
date for the structures. The examination of a number of rabbit
burrows and badger sets close to the site produced only a single
sherd of medieval pottery. A few other random finds included flint
flakes and fire-cracked flint.
The farmer who once owned the site has
mentioned that before the Second World War there were standing
buildings on this site. The farmer had planned to renovate and
restore the structures, but the land was commandeered for training
purposes during the war and the buildings were used for target
practice, and as such destroyed.
FIELD WALKING AT PEACEHAVEN
In January and February of 2004 the BHAS Field Unit conducted a field
walking survey of lands at Lower Hoddern Farm, Peacehaven.(Ref TQ
416018). The field is divided into 3 sections, east, west and south.
An initial field walking of 10 lines in 2003 had found two Neolithic
rough out axes, and significant amounts of flint tools. The field
walking of 2004 completed a survey of all three fields with some very
interesting results. The field has been identified as the possible
location of a Neolithic flint tool manufacturing site, probably
utilising natural resources from the cliff faces along the coast
close to Newhaven.(Pers. Comm. O.Gilkes). A local lady, Mrs Schultz
had collected a number of Neolithic axes when she worked on the farm,
and allowed members of the Society to examine and photograph them,
however their exact find provenance is unknown. A number of
mesolithic blades have also been found in a field close by by local
Mr Tony Paine.
The fields were divided into lines spaced 20 metres apart, and each
line was walked in 20 metre long transects. The weather was
predominatly fine and sunny with only a little drizzle on the final
day of walking in the south field.
The finds recovered were mainly of flint, both waste flakes and fire
cracked flint. However, a significant number of flint tools were also
recovered. The tools included scrapers, piercing tools, notched
pieces, a number of beautiful blades and blade fragments and a total
of 9 Neolithic axes. Other pieces included a possible early Neolithic
blade and sickle. The dot density diagrams are indicating possible
concentrations of material in a number of places across the east and
west fields. The south field contained countless pieces of fire
cracked flint, and considerable quantities were collected, counted
and weighed during the field walking project.
The fields at Lower Hoddern Farm are obviously the site of
considerable Neolithic activity. However, as the fields consist of a
very rich sandy loam and have been ploughed for some time it is
unlikely whether ancient features are preserved below the plough
soil. It is possible that colluvial activity in the shallow valley
bottom may have produced deep enough protection, and a survey of the
results may indicate the potential for some assessment excavation.
The fields are close to one of the proposed areas for the Brighton
sewage site, and a professional unit may be conducting excavations in
the field to the east of the one walked.
In the centre of the field was a small concentration of Roman
pottery, including the rim of a burnished vessel and the base of some
grey ware. The dozen sherds recovered from the field walking are too
small to suggest a sigificant Roman presence and further walking
around this localised centre may be necessary to produce other finds.
The Roman material could possibly be a small local site, or may
indicate pottery being moved form other locations through manuring or
isolated soil dumping.
The fields are Lower Hodedern Farm have produced significant amounts
of Neolithic flintwork to justify further investigation. Once the
concentrations are analysed it is likely that BHAS may return to the
fields for geophysical surveying and some archaeological excavation.