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BHAS Field Unit Archive 2006


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* Original Information March 2006

* added 8th June 2006

* added 16th July 2006

* added 11th October 2006


Metal Detecting in Brighton and Hove

The Brighton and District Metal Detecting Club joined in with the field walking at Falmer, hut produced only contemporary finds. The club has reported finding dispersed Roman coins in a field, near Kingston. BHAS Field Unit members are hoping to join them in the near future.


The BHAS Field Unit conducted held walking on the field deemed to be the possible site for the Brighton and Hove football stadium. The small field produced flint work, fire-cracked flint, oyster shell and pottery dated to the Iron Age, roman and medieval periods, including 2 pieces of medieval strap handle. The best finds were a superb Mesolithic core and a small Neolithic axe or pick. The details are now being transferred to dot density diagrams and will be passed to Archaeology South East who will conducting an archaeological assessment on the field prior to any construction work.

Hollingbury Hill-fort

The BHAS Field Unit conducted more geophysics in the interior of Hollingbury hill-fort. The survey consisted of 7, 20x20 m2. The new survey was in an area where more gorse has been cleared and has extended the investigation over the site of a possible building. A non intrusive metal detector survey was also carried at the same time using the same grids to evaluate possible metal content of the area.

Millbank Wood

This project is currently on hold until the excavation brief has been compiled and presented to Brighton & Hove Council for their approval.


The field along the coast will be used for field walking training in the early autumn and also for metal detecting. The date of the projects will be subject to the crop removal.

The BHAS Field Unit returned to Hog Croft field in Ovingdean in March 2006 for a third season of excavation. The new project was to seek evidence for a dove-cote and detached kitchen. A geophysical survey conducted in 1991 had revealed a number of linear features which proved to be barns and out buildings and the site of a medieval manor house with walls 1.4M wide. The new season extended an area nicknamed 'The Tower' and a possible area of tiled floor. A small 1 metre wide section was also cut to examine the boundary wall that showed on the geophysical survey on the east side of the medieval enclosure.

The trenches were quite small measuring only 3 metres square and were part of an assessment study. The trench in 'The Tower' area was an extension to an area of flint rubble that had been excavated in 2002 and that had curved boundaries on both the east and west ends. Both Hangleton and Patcham dove-cotes are round in shape. The trench found no evidence to support the theory that the rubble was part of the demolition of such a structure but did produced evidence for a pair of ditches running towards the south/east at a very peculiar angle. One of the ditches was flint packed and covered by more flint rubble, part of 'The Tower' fill. A small section cut into the 'Tower' east end found that it dropped down onto a flat bottom, but it was quite small in width and much too small for a dove-cote.

The detached kitchen trench provided much evidence in the way of medieval artefacts including some lovely large sherds of pottery, possibly later medieval. Bone, whelk shells which appear to have been very popular, and some metal work were also found. The trench found considerable amounts of roofing tile and some pieces that may be floor. The excavation revealed what appears to be a foundation trench, running east to west, for a possible building with flint nodules, a large corner stone and mortar suggesting a substantial structure. A small adjacent trench cut to seek a continuation of the feature found that that had it had began to curve or had turned towards the north. A number of pieces of dressed chalk were also recovered. There were no traces found of either hearth or ovens and other than the dietary and pottery evidence it would be difficult to confirm that the structure is a detached kitchen, only further excavation would be able to confirm this possibility.

The trench cut to find the boundary wall uncovered another flint floor and evidence for another wall at a much deeper level. The boundary wall had been robbed out but there was sufficient evidence for the wall and its foundation trench in the section revealed. The whole of Hog Croft field is an archaeological site with the archaeology located immediately below the turf. The small excavation has revealed the complexity of the archaeology at Ovingdean and only a major excavation would be able to determine any chronological sequence and full understanding of this fascinating area. The excavations did reveal that the enclosure is an artificial creation comprised of a multitude of fills consisting of various deposits or chalk rubble and softer loams. It is now safe to assume that the quarry located on the east side Cattle Hill was the location from which much of this platform was derived and that the unsound structure may be the reason for the outward leaning walls of the manor house and the reason why the site was finally abandoned. Local historian John Davies has told us that there is historical evidence for a dove-cote associated with the later manor building and that there is a Pigeon House Lane still in Ovingdean. (see Pictures in Gallery)


Additional field walking will be conducted during 2006 to complete this phase of the project. This will be part of Phase three of the project.

Finds Processing

Finds processing with be organised at Brighton Museum on Saturday 20th May. The event will be in conjunction with Liz Wilson the Finds Liaison Officer and Tristan Bareharn and his ESAMP team.

Arlington Roman Road and Associated Buildings

Members of the BHAS Field Unit continued working with Greg Chuter at Arlington in the middle of February when the field was then ploughed. As well as a road and possible buildings the excavation has been recovering complete pots, including samian ware. The BHAS Field Unit have been invited to return to Arlington once the crop is removed in October.

As the season winds up at Rocky Clump, with only the final drawings and measurements to be made and details checked, the BHAS team have started to move to a new location. Greg Chuter, our Assistant County Archaeologist has asked for support with a major investigation at Arlington. Last year a number of our people assisted with some small trenches which produced Roman coins, complete pots, a Roman road and a possible settlement. The new season is uncovering a number of very large trenches and will continue until Christmas. Everyone is encouraged to go over to Arlington to help Greg and our Steve who is co-director of the site during the week. The excavations will be taking place on Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays.

Firle Excavations

In the early part of June 2006 members of the BHAS Field Unit joined with others from Eastbourne, Hastings and MSFAT to assist Greg Chuter from East Sussex County Council. An excavation was undertaken below the South Downs near Firle and close to the Charleston farmhouse. Over the past years metal detectorists have been finding Roman and Iron Age coins and a geophysical survey had produced some very interesting anomalies. The site is about 2 kilometres east of the Beddingham Roman villa, excavated in the 1990's, and is in a similar location close to a stream.

The excavation consisted of a number of trenches cut into the one field. The finds produced some very interesting pieces including East Sussex Ware pottery, Roman grey wares and decorated samian. Others finds included bone and shell. The most significant find was an Iron Age coin. The BHAS team had a really interesting time at Firle and despite not finding Roman buildings this time hope that further geophysics may locate the settlement site or villa that must lie close by. BHAS are looking forward to returning to Firle some time in the not too distant future.

Rocky Clump

Rocky Clump has once again been the main focus of the BHAS archaeological investigations. The 2006 season focused within the trees which is Rocky Clump and looked at a number of areas centred around the possible 'Roman Shrine'. The main trench, located within the precincts of the actual 'shrine' building was extended to the north. This area has been very disturbed by both tree root activity and burrowing animals. The rubble over burden was cleared and produced a very uneven surface within the confines of the 7 post holes that constitute the building boundaries. A new post hole was found, and is still being excavated, it is not certain yet as to whether we have only removed the post 'pipe' as several pieces of flint tend to suggest that this inner fill is surrounded by flint packing. The post, at present, is a great deal smaller than the other posts previously found. However, the new post hole is located right in the centre of the shrine. The fill has produced some nice pottery including a lovely Roman base section and marked sherd of samian ware.

A small trench was cut into the cemetery area, in a small section that had not been looked at in previous excavations. Sadly no new grave cuts were found, but a new section of the possible medieval ditch was revealed and produced green glazed pottery in the fill. One of the old grave cuts from the 1950's excavation was uncovered and allowed additional accurate locations to be added to the site plan.

A large trench was cut into the field to the east side of Rocky Clump. The object of this trench was to seek the location of other post holes that might indicate whether the Shrine was a possible aisled building. No new post holes were found which means the possible Shrine is square in shape. A new post hole was revealed, but it does not topographically appear to be associated with the shrine, well not at present anyway. A new ditch has been uncovered running out of the trees in an easterly direction and part of the ditch that surrounds the clump was also revealed. One of the most interesting features was a very large pit. The pit is straight sided and 80 centimetres deep and on the west side cut through the ditch surrounding the clump. The fill is very loose and produced finds of both Roman pottery and fairly contemporary ceramics. We have no idea of why it was cut. The pit is about 1.44 metres wide and at present 2.5 metres long but it continues under the baulk going northwards. It is a very odd feature and we will ask Mr West if he can remember ever creating it. This trench is being extended to the south and is producing finds of Roman pottery and bone.

A new trench was opened to the north of the trees to seek a continuation of a line of post holes found during previously excavations and running into baulk going westwards. At present no new post holes have been found in this line, but another configuration of holes in a circular shape have been revealed. We had also been expecting to find traces of two ditches in the same location as the post holes, but at present only one has appeared. Obviously something dramatic has changed over an 8 metre length and it means that this trench will have to be extended eastwards next season.

2006 has been a fantastic season for BHAS with often over 20+ people turning up on any one day. It may have been the fact that digging was in the shade during a very hot summer, but I would like to think that it was because we have a great and expanding team where people find a very warm and friendly welcome. I think that both Norman and Steve deserve a round of applause.




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