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BHAS Field Unit News 2005 Page 1


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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 Jan 2005

* added June 2005 (on Page 2)

* added July 2005 (on Page 2)

* added September 2005 (on Page 1 & 2)

* added October 2005 (on Page 2)

* added December 2005 (on Page 1 & 2)



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

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.


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 2

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.


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 and configuration.

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.



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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