Excavations at Rocky Clump began in April of 1999 and continued until the end of November. Over forty members of the society participated in the dig this year producing over 400 working days. The excavations concentrated on extending the existing trench, opening a second within the copse of trees and conducting assessment trenches to the west and north of the existing site.
New features found this year included a number of post-holes in a linear configuration suggesting the possible existence of yet another building on the west side of the complex. A new and larger ditch running east to west was found running parallel to the one already uncovered, but much larger in dimension measuring 1.5 metres across and nearly one metre in depth. The large pit found in 1998, context 412, continued to produce interesting finds including the skull of an ox overlying a bed of winkle and mussels shells. The same pit produced similar finds in 1998 of a sheep skull overlying a bed of oyster shells. A large buried sarsen stone sealed the layers between these two similar features. The stone bore tool marks but no significant decoration.
Among the finds this year (1999) were the horse bridle piece and a piece of Samian pottery repaired in antiquity. The ditch within the copse was investigated over an 8 metre length and a coin of the emperor Trajan was found in the upper layers of the ditch fill. A coin of George III was found in the same layer, located further to the east, in 1997. The ditch is very disturbed and is considered to be associated with the Pelham family landscaping at Stanmer. The assessment trenches suggest further features in the field to the north.
The year 2000 excavations will continue in this direction. A geophysical study in the field to the south of Rocky Clump produced a circular anomaly and an adjacent linear feature; perhaps this is the location of the round house? The existing trench was back filled at the end of the season.
Geophysics at Preston Manor
A geophysical study was undertaken on lands to the north of Preston Manor in November of 1999. The area had been partially investigated in February of the same year but results had proved inconclusive due to the excessive rainfall during the winter of 1998. The new survey investigated all of the land under grass. The results showed clearly a number of areas of high readings suggesting possible masonry. One area close to the London Road is the location of a demolished lodge gate cottage (pers comm. Edwyna Allison-Fox). A second linear arrangement of high readings may be the vestiges of an extension to the manor in the 19th century, this again was later demolished. Further high readings were found on the east side of the lawns where lie possible remains of Tudor cottages. A number of medieval pottery shards were found in the flowerbeds, and a penny of Elizabeth II. Further geophysical studies of Preston Manor are planned for this year.
Geophysics at Ovingdean
A resistivity survey was conducted on a field close to St Wulfrans Church, Ovingdean. The in 1986 the field had been investigated by Mr Ray Hartridge, a past President of the Society, and a second survey was conducted in 1991. This third survey made use of our new equipment and produced significant anomalies including a possible enclosure. Mr John Davies, a local historian and member of this society, has suggested that these anomalies may prove to be the location of a 'Thegnly' manor house. As English Heritage are considering scheduling the site, BHAS have submitting an application for approval to conduct an assessment of the area to try to determine the nature and date of the features observed.
Fieldwalking at Ovingdean
The unit was given the opportunity to field walk two fields at Ovingdean, close to St Dunstans and Roedean School. An initial survey of the field suggested the location of a number of sites dating to the Neolithic and Roman periods. A Roman site is known from the area and metal detectorists have been observed in the fields in years past. The fieldwalking undertaken in February produced significant quantities of white patinated flint flakes and a number of flint tools. There were a few Roman shards found. Over 400 bags of material now have to be washed, sorted marked and catalogued to identify areas of possible concentration. A field south of the church at Ovingdean is planned for fieldwalking in the autumn, apparently it produces many oyster shells when ploughed (D. Baker pers comm.)
Finds from Falmer
A new member to the unit, born and bred in Stanmer and Falmer, brought to the flint day school his personal collection of flint and pottery. The flint collection consisted of over 20 axes, thought initially to be of Neolithic date, but suggested by Mr Chris Butler our flint specialist, to be tranchet axes dating to the Mesolithic period. One axe he suggested may even be of Palaeolithic date. Mr Butler will be examining the artefacts in some detail and will produce a report for the Sussex Archaeological Collections. Many members of the unit visited the location sites of the flint axes and Roman pottery. Our new member believes that Falmer may be the location of a flint mine, and that a Roman building was destroyed during the building of the north section of Sussex University. Apparently further finds of Roman pottery still erode from a lynchet feature close to site of the original building destroyed. A complete report is being compiled for the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR).