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* Original Information April 2008
* Ovingdean added 4th June 2008
* Peacehaven added 16th June 2008
* Ovingdean added 18th August 2008
* Varley Hall added 6th October 2008
* Alington (Inturem Report) added 9th
* Southwick Dec 08
EXCAVATIONS AT PEACEHAVEN APRIL 2008
Members of the BHAS Field Unit joined CCE
student Sue Birks, from Sussex University, to assist her with the
excavation of a Bronze Age barrow on Peacehaven Heights. The project
is part of Sue's MA programme. The barrow is very close to the cliff
edge and is gradually being eroded away. The excavation only
commenced after approval by English Heritage and the landowners.
A group of local archaeologists from the BHAS
and MSFAT teams, assisted by others, removed the north/west quadrant
of this very substantial feature. Earlier excavations in 2007 had
found that the ancient burial mound had been used during the Second
World War for military purposes. Those excavations revealed two slit
trenches that had effectively removed large quantities of the
interior of the earthworks. This season a mechanical digger was used
to remove the back fill from the previous excavations and new
investigation began on the lower levels.
The mound is created from local sand/clay
deposits (known as Woolwich Beds) that cover the chalk to a depth of
16ft in this area, and are very easy to trowel. There were two
distinct lower layers of flint nodules, but at irregular intervals
around the barrow. Among the untouched surface flint nodules were
hundreds of pieces of worked flint. The majority of the flint work
was waste flakes but tools including scrapers and blades were also
recovered as well as some cores, an axe roughout and an arrow head.
The worked flint comprised pieces from
differing periods with many Late Neolithic pieces being mixed in with
the Bronze Age flakes recovered from the upper layers and Mesolithic
flint work was found in the lower surfaces close to the hard clay
bedrock. This suggests that residual flint from earlier times had
been scooped up along with the Bronze Age flint and soil from the
surrounding area and used to make up the mound. Some 40 pieces of
pottery were also recovered which is prehistoric and crudely made,
and the initial dating does tend to suggest that it is Bronze Age
with some pieces possibly being Beaker. A single rim sherd does tend
to suggest that during a later Roman period the burial mound was
still the focus of some attention.
The barrow failed to produce any evidence for a
central burial although a number of small pits containing burnt
stone, charcoal and pot could have been cremation pits. However no
bone survived probably due to the acidic nature of the soil. A number
of stake and post holes were found which may indicate grave markers
or some funerary structure, although as only one quadrant has so far
been excavated and further excavation is needed to make sense of
Sue Birks will now be working on the excavation
report and will hopefully produce a copy of her dissertation for the
website in the not too distant future. It is possible that BHAS may
return to Peacehaven to remove the east section of the barrow, the
seaward sides being too dangerous, as the burial mound is likely to
disappear in the near future.
John Funnell & Sue Birks
Excavations at Varley Halls 2008
In August 2008 members of the BHAS Field Unit
joined Lisa Fisher, a student at Sussex University, to assist her
with her MA project excavation at Varley Halls, Coldean, Brighton.
The area has been the subject of intense archaeological activity over
the past decade. Prior to the creation of the Brighton bypass a major
excavation found the remains of a Bronze Age settlement at Dowsview.
(Rudling). A second excavation, conducted before the building of
Varley Halls of Residence, uncovered another Bronze Age settlement,
less than a kilometre to the east of Downsview.(Greig) Fieldwalking
has recovered flintwork, flint tools, fire cracked flint, Iron Age
and Roman pottery. The finds clearly indicating that this area was
well utilised during ancient times (Hartridge et al) (Funnell).
Aerial photographs clearly indicate a number of
linear features in the triangular shaped field that lies between the
Bronze Age sites at Downsview and Varley Halls. In 2007 Lisa Fisher
and members of the BHAS team conducted a geophysical survey of the
field with extremely interesting results. A significant linear
feature noted on the aerial photographs was also very prevalent in
the images produced by resistivity surveying.
The 2008 excavations were an investigation of this
extremely visible linear feature, believed to be the vestiges of a
ploughed out lynchet, and a study of the environmental evidence from
the earliest deposits.
The excavation consisted of one major trench
measuring 10 metres in length by 1 metre in width, later widened to 2
metres in width at various locations along the length. The finds from
the excavation were recorded three dimensionally for accurate
locations. It would be possible to create a very accurate density
image from the data used.
Another two small trenches were excavated to
examine a number of other anomalies noted in the geophysical survey
Excavations at Southwick
During the latter part of 2008 members of the
BHAS Field Unit joined Giles Standing to assist with his excavations
at Southwick. Giles organised the small excavation in the playing
field area of Manor Hall Middle School as part of the National
Archaeology Week in July. The excavation was preceded by a
resistivity survey conducted by the Worthing Archaeological Society
over a large part of the field. The equipment was borrowed from the
Sussex Archaeological Society and Archaeology South East. The
location of the excavation is only a short distance from the
substantial Roman villa excavated in the 1930's, which was dated to
the first century A.D.
The excavation revealed a flint constructed
Roman wall, without mortar, and a chalk floor. The finds from the
fills of the various features included animal bones, oyster shells,
Roman bricks, roofing tile and pottery of both Iron Age and Roman
periods. A number of unidentified iron objects were also recovered.
Members of the BHAS field unit who assisted were Dot McBrien and
Linda Wright who live locally. Susan Birks and Keith Butler went
along to plan and draw the sections prior to the back filling. It is
possible that a new excavation will be conducted some time in the future.
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