* 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.
POST EXCAVATION WORK
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
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.
ROCKY CLUMP 2007
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
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.
EXCAVATIONS AT RINGMER
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
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.