FIELD WORK FOR 2005 SEASON
The new season of field work being planned by the Brighton and Hove
Archaeological Society indicates that this year promises to be very busy.
Excavations will continue at Woodingdean, completing the very
extensive investigations already undertaken. New trenches are planned
for Rocky Clump and the medieval site at Ovingdean, looking for a
possible dove-cote and detached kitchen. Further studies will include
surveying at Millbank, where excavations will probably be undertaken
in a few seasons time.
The geophysics team have been working very hard already this season,
starting with a resistivity project at Bushy Bottom near Truleigh
Hill. New projects include an investigation of earthworks at Beacon
Hill, Rottingdean. The earthworks were noted by one of the Brighton
Rangers in the course of his work with the Local Nature Reserve.
There will be further geophysics at Ovingdean seeking the prestigious
Roman site hinted at by the quantity of Roman pottery and coins found
in the vicinity. Other projects always seem to occur during the year
as rescue and priority events.
If you are interested in joining the BHAS Field Unit contact either:-
The website at www.brightonarch.org.uk
Where more details of events can be conveyed, and where you can, if
you wish, join the BHAS Field Unit update list. The update list
provides current news, to temporarily absent members of the unit,
about the various events and where they are being held and at what
times to meet.
ROCKY CLUMP 2005
The excavations at Rocky Clump continued in 2004 until the end of
August, when the team moved to the asssesment excavations being
undertaken at Woodingdean. However, during September a 5 day
continuoussession was held on site to assist a student with a field
work project. During November Rocky Clump was visited by both the
Brighton and Hove 6th Form College and an evening class from Heathfield.
The site this season has concentrated on removing the various fills
of the large ditch that crosses the field from south to north. The
excavations have produced some very interesting decorated pottery and
a large bone assemblage from the the bottom section of the upper
ditch soft, silty fill. The lower fills of the ditch, which are a
chalky loam, have produced very few finds, but those that have been
recovered will produce important dating evidence. Pictures of Pot fig
1 and fig
Small finds from the excavations this season include a number of
coins, including one of the Empress Lucilla. AD 161-AD169 who was the
wife of Emporer Lucius Verus.
The new 2005 season at Rocky Clump will investigate several areas
that have a number of outstanding questions yet to be addressed. The
cemetery area within the trees may still contain an unexcavated
burial, which could provide important dating for the other known
burials. The field to the south/east of the trees will be examined to
determine whether the 'Shrine' building is in fact a Roman aisled
building. The removal of a rotting tree stump may also allow for
excavation within the 'shrine ' building.
A new section is also being opened to the north of the existing
excavation to allow for an in depth study, by the bones team, of the
bone deposition within the large north/south ditch.
ROCKY CLUMP EXCAVATIONS 2005
The 2005 season at Rocky Clump, Stanmer has
seen a record number of people attending and helping with the
excavations, including a group from Cambridge. The season has focused
on three areas. The main site is centred on a section of the large
ditch that runs north from the copse of trees known as Rocky Clump.
The ditch is almost 3 metres in width at the top and has a number of
fills. The upper fill possesses a considerable amount of bone,
currently being examined by Carol White and the BHAS bones team. Cut
by this ditch are a number of very large pits measuring almost 3
metres in diameter and filled with a number of differing fills. Finds
from the pits being currently excavated have included bone, shell and
pottery. The ditch has a small terrace on the west side and a large
terrace with the pits on the east. The pits have produced a visible
chronological sequence, with clearly some pits being cut by others
and with the upper fill of the ditch being the final cut of all,
cutting a number of these pits.
A new area measuring 4 metres square has been
started to conduct an in depth study of the bone deposition, are the
bones randomly or ritually deposited? However, it soon became very
clear that the new excavation area was part of an extremely large
feature and will have to be extended to the east to determine an edge
A new geophysical survey was conducted around
the present excavations using David Staveley's new TR system
resistivity surveying machine. The new survey produced splendid
results clearly noting the continuation of a pair of ditches (see Fig
1 and Fig
2, partially excavated in previous
seasons, and still running eastwards across the field possibly
linking to another ditch running northwards. The survey also produced
evidence for a new a large area of low resistance comprising either
geological deposits or a large area of domestic activity with more
rubbish pits or middens. The north/south ditch is then seen continue
further northwards before linking with another large ditch running
east/west. It is obvious that Rocky Clump still has much to reveal
with regard Roman activity.
The area within the trees is deemed to be a
possible Roman Shrine. This season we have uncovered one of the large
post holes excavated in past seasons by Walter Gorton and it is
indeed huge, measuring 1.2 metres in diameter and 0.75 metres in depth.
The Brighton Rangers, under the direction of
David Larkin, have now removed an old rotting tree that stood in the
centre of the 'shrine' area. The ground beneath where the old tree
stood is currently being excavated. The structure interior is filled
with a loose chalk rubble, and has been badly disturbed by tree root
action and rabbits. It is hoped that the central area will produce
conclusive proof for it being a ritual building. An area has also
been opened to the east of the shrine, but no post holes have been
found to support the idea that the structure is an aisled barn.
However, a myriad number of ditches and pits tend to suggest that
there is still a great deal to be revealed before the full complexity
of Rocky Clump can be explained.
I would like to thank all those members of the
Society who have worked so hard and enthusiastically this season and
to Norman Phippard, Steve Corbett who have managed the site so well
in my absences, and to David Staveley who continues to lead the
geophysical team. The post excavation work is already underway with
Carol White and her group looking at the bones and Keith Edgar
examining the pottery. Finds processing will begin in December.
ROCKY CLUMP EXCAVATIONS
The excavations at Rocky Clump focused on 3
areas. The main excavation trench examined the major ditch that runs
northwards from Rocky Clump. A new excavation began to investigate
the interior of the possible roman 'shrine' while a third trench was
opened up north of the existing ditch main trench to look at a large
area of low resistance.
A total of 75 people participated in the
excavations this season and over 650 days were worked in the field.
The Young Archaeologist's club (Y.A.C.) joined the excavation sin
June and a 5 day session included young people from Cambridge and London.
The main excavation focused on an area
measuring 40 square metres looking at a 4 metre with of the large
ditch. Leader of the BHAS bones team, Carol White, was particularly
interested in the bone deposits that had been found in previous
seasons and was keen to seek evidence for possible ritualistic
significance. The excavation revealed a number of inter-cutting pits (photo
1 and photo
2) all located on the east side of
the large ditch running north/south. There was some incursion into
the west of the ditch although this was minimal. A similar number of
pits have been excavated in previous seasons and these have also been
located to the east of the ditch. One large pit included the cow
burial. Despite the intensity of activity found the pits produced
very little in the way of finds with pottery, shell and some bone
being present but in very small quantities. The bone deposit was
found to be concentrated in the middle ditch fills, as in previous
seasons. However, there was no evidence for ritualistic deposits and
it looks like very random rubbish. There were a number of nice pieces
of bone found including a cow horn.
The investigation of the 'shrine' area has now
started. The interior of the building appears to be an elevated
section of compressed chalk, with a well defined edge on the south
and east sides. Trenches were cut to the east to seek evidence for
the building being a possible aisled building. However, no new large
pots holes were revealed. The east end of the new trench has revealed
a number of pits, ditches and pots holes. The excavations for 2006
will be focused on this area to try and determine some plan of the
'shrine' and its adjacent area to try and confirm a ritualistic
significance. The finds from the shrine area were very few with only
a single but large piece of East Sussex Ware as dateable material.
The New opened north of the main trench has
revealed some interesting pieces of archaeology including a coin and
some nice pieces of pottery. The depth of this section is now well
below the plough soil and will have to be extended to seek the edges
of the large area of low resistance.
In November the BHAS Field Unit joined David
McOmish from English Heritage for a resistivity survey on Edburton
Hill. The hill is the location of a Norman motte and bailey defensive
structure. When the fields had been ploughed in the past Con
Ainsworth noted significant quantities of medieval pottery in the
plough soil. David has been conducting contour surveying around the
earthworks and had noted shallow, more subtle features that appear to
pre-date the medieval structure. Keith Edgar who has been conducting
a historical survey of Edburton and Perching has also noted that the
motte and bailey may include a possible earlier tumuli or barrow.
David Staveley and Norman led the team and the survey, which was
conducted in bitterly cold conditions, and examined areas to the
south of the earthworks. The results have produced not only
supportive anomalies for the expected features related to the
project, but also additional previously unknown features. The survey
is going to be extended in the spring with the possibility of some
small scale excavation being undertaken.
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