Barcombe archaeology 2003-2006

Our fieldwork plan was to undertake quick assessment walks over as wide an area as possible and to undertake more detailed fieldwork where there appeared to be evidence for settlement, particularly in the medieval period. Other sites for detailed work were chosen because earlier chance archaeological finds suggested there was a site to be recorded or because documentary sources indicated earlier settlement.

The work undertaken was not comprehensive. Chris Greatorex mapped the extensive area under grass and therefore not available to us for fieldwork as they were in 2005/6 (shaded green on the map).

The project was also partially curtailed for other reasons beyond our control. Some landowners did not give permission for us to undertake work on their land. The weather in the short period in the autumn when the fields were ploughed and available for work was particularly poor in both 2004 and 2005. In addition some of the fields that were high on our list of priorities were never ploughed. Country side conservation schemes often require that fields are disc harrowed and are then left. The resulting partially grassed surface is not suitable for good archaeological assessment.

Brief summary
None the less we can claim that our understanding of both the prehistory and later history of the area has been transformed as a result of this project. We identified evidence for extensive use in the Mesolithic (8000-4300 BC), as well as some for more limited use in the Palaeolithic (35000-8000 BC), Neolithic (4300-2500 BC) and Bronze Age (2500-800 BC). In addition there was substantial evidence for further Roman and medieval land use and possible settlement. The changing nature of modern settlement has been emphasised by the number of houses recorded in 1840 that are now lost and documentary evidence suggests that there are more sites of medieval houses yet to be identified; the work has only just begun.

Big Dig
With the help of local people, many of whom undertook to dig their own holes, we dug a series of test pits in gardens during the weekends of 'The Big Dig'. It must be said that the results were a little disappointing. Again our main thrust was to find evidence for medieval settlement, but even pits dug in gardens of known medieval houses proved barren. Although evidence often confirmed the date of later buildings, only one new medieval site was recorded, at Spithurst House.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the landowners who generously gave permission for us to work on their land - without their help the project could not have gone ahead.

The archaeological field work undertaken on behalf of the project was led by Mike Seager Thomas and Chris Greatorex and teams of volunteers from the local community, Sussex Archaeological Society, Mid Sussex Field Archaeology Team, Lewes Archaeological Group, and Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society. We are grateful to all the volunteers for undertaking work in what were on occasions exceedingly adverse conditions. In particular we would like to thank Adrienne and Stephen Rees-Jones who generously hosted the onslaught of pot washers and other workers over the weekends of the Big Dig.

The team working on the Roman villa have  kindly agreed for us to include the result of their fieldwork on this site and we have also incorporated the information from the Historical Environment Record (HER) (formerly the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR))

Barcombe archaeology 2003-2006

Field Walking and Historical Environment Records


Woodland survey