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BHAS Field Unit Archive 2007


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* Original Information January 2007

* added May 2007

* added June 2007

* added August 2007

* added October 2007

* added December 2007


In October, November and December of 2006 the BHAS Field Unit moved on mass to Arlington. The site is an assessment for a larger excavation to be conducted in 2008. The excavation is lead by Greg Chuter of East Sussex County Council and Bob

Washington and has Steve Corbett from BHAS co-directing during the week day working.

The site is focused on a Roman road that cuts across the field going from east to west, from Pevensey down to the villa sites at Barcombe and Beddingham. Some previous work was undertaken by John Holmes during the 1960's but as yet no details of a Roman site, destroyed by the creation of the Arlington reservoir, have been found. The Roman road at Arlington is extremely well preserved and had a clear agger and associated ditches on either side. Along the side of the road a number of post holes have been found which may relate to settlement following the road down the valley and across the river Cuckmere.

This season the excavations were extended from an early assessment in 2005 and despite horrendous conditions, with persistent rain making the clay into a thick and Somme like mud, most of the BHAS Field Unit persevered with the extremely interesting site.

A number of new deep ditches were uncovered, some with evidence for flint covered sides. Among other finds are areas, south of the road, where a mass of what appears to be metal working slag. These areas of slag appear to be quite well defined and may be Roman workshops. The finds have been incredible with superb pottery being found in large amounts.

There have been a few metal finds including coins, found by metal detecting in the field by members of the team. Finds processing will begin in 2007 and Greg is hoping to involve all of those who helped with the digging.

There will be magnetometry survey conducted in the field in the spring of 2007 with perhaps further small scale investigation in the autumn of 2007.



During January, February and March the BHAS Field Unit will be carrying out post excavation work at the Victoria Rooms in Stanmer. We will be processing material from Ovingdean, Rocky Clump and possibly Arlington. The processing includes the washing, marking and cataloguing of finds and allows hands on experience for both Roman and medieval finds. The sessions are usually from 10-00am till 3-00pm on designated Saturdays. If you would like to join in with the group please go to the Contact Us page.


The BHAS Field Unit moved virtually en-masse over to Arlington at the beginning of November. A new series of excavations organised by Greg Chuter, archaeologist with East Sussex County Council, was going to investigate anomalies found during geophysical surveying at the end of the last season.

The new excavations have produced many new features, including new ditches and pits and floors of slag that tend to suggest metal working. The features are similar to that found at Ringmer in the earlier part of 2007. One particularly interesting feature was a large deposit of large flint nodules, roofing tile and pottery in what is a very large ditch running north/to south across the site. Initially the linear arrangement was thought to be the possible wall of a building, but is now considered to be only a ditch fill, possible Roman drain or causeway. The area will need to be extended in several directions before the interesting feature will be fully understood.

It is very obvious that a large area of Roman activity, possibly associated with the known Roman road, lies within this field. The small scale trial trenches has shown the vast potential at Arlington. Only large scale excavations will really allow us to fully understand what type of industrial or settlement site lies beneath the Sussex mud.

The weather has not been very kind this season with persistent rain filling many of the trenches, and with lowering temperatures causing the water to freeze into ice. Despite the bad conditions the BHAS Field Unit has maintained a significant presence on site, and they have been rewarded with finds of pottery and a coin of Trajan. The excavations will continue until January 2008 when the field will be needed for the sowing of the new crop.

The BHAS Field Unit would like to thank Greg for inviting us to dig at Arlington. Greg has offered to give a presentation on recent work conducted by ESCC/BHAS over the past few seasons. This talk will be part of the 2009/2009 season of lectures.



The new season of excavations at Rocky Clump began on Good Friday April 6th. The site is probably a Romano-British farming community which had intermittent occupation from the 1st century B.C through to the early 4th century A.D. Finds have included pottery, shell, Roman roofing tile, bone and metalwork that includes coins and broaches as well as horse furniture. The new season will investigate a number of areas around the copse of trees. To the north of the trees there are two trenches open, these will be examining a substantial ditch running northwards from the site and this excavation will be focusing on bone deposits found in earlier sections, and whether the they have ritual implications. A second trench going westwards will try and trace a series of post holes that may relate to a building or Roman fence line, and examine another ditch running in that direction. There will be a limited excavation of an area deemed to be the location of a possible Roman shrine, and later a large mound or possible tumulus will be excavated in the shade when the weather gets warmer. A complex series of pits and ditches to the east of the copse of trees will also be looked at. A geophysical study will also be made within the trees seeking the location of possible burials.

The BHAS Field Unit are also planning a number of small excavations in the field to the south of the Upper Lodge car park. The area has been investigated using a resisitivity survey and a number of features do justify further investigation. This will be a joint investigation with the Brighton and District Metal Detecting Club.

Geophysical surveys are planned for Beacon Hill, Rottingdean, the Roman field at Ovingdean and if permission is received the medieval manor site at Piddingworth.

Newcomers are made very welcome and you only need to be a member of the Society at £10 to be covered by the Society insurance, and to have a current Tetanus. No experience is necessary.

For more details contact John Funnell by email from our Contact Us page or call (Evenings 0870 879 3359)

The excavations this season started in April. Three trenches have been worked on and a fourth is planned for later in the year inside of the copse of trees at Rocky Clump.

The North Trench- This trench was started in 2006 with some excavation being done by the Young Archaeologists Club (YAC). The area has now revealed a continuation of a pair of parallel ditches known from both geophysical surveys and previous excavations. The prime objective of this excavation was to seek a line of post holes that ran out from a building or possible stockade found in previous seasons. The line of post holes has been found and continues running westwards, but the features have been severely truncated by ploughing. The ditches have produced some very interesting finds including decorated pottery and large square headed Roman nails. There have been small amount of oyster shell and some bone including Red deer.

The Bones Trench-This large excavation is located far north of the site and is an area of very deep soil. The soil depth is over a metre deep compared to about 60 centimetres on most of the north trenches. The features revealed include the continuation of the large ditch running north/south from Rocky Clump and a large pit, probably the extension of a pit found south of the intervening baulk and excavated in 2005. The finds from the large area have not been too prolific but have included extremely interesting, decorated pottery and a Roman vessel with a peculiar cup like handle. This unique item is as yet undated or a comparison found. The object of this trench is to investigate the bone deposition in the large ditch. The large amount of soil over burden has vestiges still to be removed and it is revealing a large area of flint nodules with an in-situ cattle skull. Is this anther cow burial similar to one found in previous seasons? The work is continuing.

East Trench- The area to the east of Rocky Clump has been very enigmatic indeed, having a large soft, silty soil overburden. A number of trenches were cut in this location during the 1960's by Clive Skeggs who wanted to investigate the ditch surrounding the clump of trees. Recent excavations have produced a large square, straight sided, deep pit, close to the location of the surrounding ditch. This season the features have revealed subtle layers that are probably associated with old spoil heaps. However, below these layers a post hole and another large pit appear to be coming into view. The finds from this trench have included 20th century ceramics, bone, shell and contemporary metal work, but also numerous finds of Roman pottery. There is a very interesting, complex and intriguing story yet to be unravelled from the east trench.

The digging will continue until the late autumn with the intervening baulk being removed between the new and old excavations, where other pits are known to exist. The Young Archaeologist Club is also planning to return to Rocky Clump in October.

The 2007 season of excavations at Rocky Clump, Stanmer is now drawing to a close. The season has seen consistently high attendances on site and the Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) joined the team in both June and October. The excavations have focused on four areas in and around the small copse of trees, each investigating various aspects of this complex site.

The east trench was the subject of as small excavation in the 1960's with a number of sections being cut into the ditch that surrounds the trees. A large amount of overburden, probably associated with that dig has had to be removed to reveal a number of new features below. Finds have been collected from both the Roman period and more recent times. Items have included large sherds of Roman pottery including a number of rims and several pieces of samian ware. More contemporary finds have been iron metal work, glazed ceramics and clay pipes. The area is quite complex with both subtle cuts into the chalk along with the very deep straight sided pit found last year. The surrounding ditch and additional post holes have now been uncovered. Other ditches are intimated at, but more work will need to carried out to confirm this next season.

The north trench has revealed new sections of the two known ditches that run parallel in an east/west direction. One ditch is a typical vee shaped Roman ditch, while the other is a very shallow square shaped ditch, again with Roman finds. The smaller ditch was cut by a large semi-circular pit and possible post hole. The object of the new area of investigation was primarily to 'chase' a known series of pots holes and seek evidence for them being either a Roman fence line or an additional building or stock enclosure. The post holes were found and do continue in a westerly direction, they proved be very shallow features much eroded by ploughing. It is uncertain at this time as to whether they are evidence for a fence or building. The ditches have produced some very nice pottery but no small finds or coins. A new odd feature looking very much like a south, small flanking ditch proved to be an elongated shallow pit, but with some very interesting pottery, possibly all one vessel. The area has also produced some very large Roman nails.

The 'bones' trench, even further north than the north trench, was selected for an in depth study of the animal bone deposition. Carol White, leader of the BHAS bone team, directed this section of the excavation. The section measuring 6 metres in length and only 4 metres in width proved to be quite a fascinating area. The soil in this location drops from a typical 30 centimetres in depth to over a metre on the north baulk. The area has produced a pair of very large pits on the east side of the large north/south ditch. The pits are similar to those found in earlier seasons. The north east corner of this section drops dramatically downwards. The geophysical survey conducted a year or so ago produced a large area of low resistance and this is probably indicated by this greater depth of soil. It is possible that this sudden drop is the result of it being a hitherto unknown lynchet or field boundary. The large north/south ditch has produced a number of very large bones including cow scapula, mandibles and ribs. It is possible that they belong to the same creature. Others finds have included Roman pottery, one piece of which is quite unique and has a handle similar to a small cup. There have been several pieces of samian ware and numerous oyster shells. The appreciation of the archaeology will not be fully understood unless this trench is extended to the north and the whole area uncovered. The geophysics tends to suggest that the large north/south ditch meets a large east/west ditch in this location, focused on a very large area of high resistance.

The final area of investigation was within the trees at Rocky Clump. This year these small trenches were used as the overspill area. The object of the investigations was to seek out a new undisturbed burial that could be carbon 14 dated. The burials found in the early years have some doubt with regard their dating. A new burial may be able to produce an accurate date to the burials which are currently tentatively dated to the Saxon period, but at present without any corroborative evidence. The area was surveyed with geophysics early in the season but failed to indicate the location of any possible grave cuts. The new excavations have so far failed to find any additional burials. One nice piece of pottery which was recovered was a splendid 'strap' handle from a medieval jar, probably associated with the medieval farmstead known in the valley below at Patchway field.

The removal of the remaining ditch sections is now being conducted and after final recording the team will move to the Roman site at Arlington.



During May of this year Greg Chuter from ESCC was conducting a watching brief on soil stripping at the East Sussex Gliding Club at Ringmer, where the landing strip is being widened. During the morning it became apparent that the development was on an area that contained a number of archaeological features, and pottery from a survey of the site suggested a date in the Roman period. A call was made to the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Field Unit for assistance with an archaeological rescue excavation. There had been no indication from desk top surveys of there being any archaeology in that area.

The site appears to be an opened ended ditched enclosure. On one part of the site there appears to be a possible ring ditch or drip gully formed from rain falling from the roof of a circular (roundhouse?) building. The site area contained large amounts of iron slag and features resembling post holes. One of the possible postholes was excavated and was found to be a small furnace. A second furnace or metal working area was found close by. One of the furnaces has been sampled by English Heritage with a view to dating.

A magnetometer survey was also carried out on an area, to the north of the excavation that had yet to be stripped of top soil. The geophysics produced a number of linear anomalies which will justify further examination once the top soil has been removed.

Members of the team working in one ditch found numerous sherds of 1st and 2nd century pottery as well as cremated bone. A large square pit cutting another ditch produced degraded animal skulls including deer and cow, these have been removed for further examination by the BHAS Bones team. This pit also contained large Roman pottery body sherds and an iron blade, possibly a knife.

We were joined, for day, by members of the Brighton and District Metal Detecting Club. Most of their finds were 19th or 20th century in date with some ½ crowns and threepenny pieces. One Georgian coin was found in the same location. Most significant of all was a small bronze Roman brooch found on the re-deposited soil. An iron Roman brooch was later found in one of the ditches and was probably from inside of one of the pots.

The find of the dig was a large nodule of flint covering some bone. As it was late in the day it was left in situ until the following day. On sponging out the water the following day, after an overnight downfall of rain, the flint was washed off to find that it was a fine example of a Palaeolithic handaxe measuring some 22cm x 15cm x 7cm and weighing in at around 2 kilo.

The BHAS Field Unit worked at Ringmer for several week-ends and also on week days when weather permitted. A watching brief will be carried out during the next few weeks as further top soil is removed. The excavation was directed by Greg Chuter from East Sussex County Council who will be compiling the site report.




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