Sadly this year’s excavations at the Romano-British settlement at Bridge Farm, near Barcombe Mills are due to be completed this week but the site can be visited on Sunday 10th August when tours of the site will be given at 11am, 12 noon and 1pm. For volunteers there are still plenty of features to be completed during this last week especially the full excavation of the half-sectioned postholes.
The excavations which targeted the site of a large post built building has also uncovered adjacent boundary ditches, a possible bread oven and a forging hearth, as well as two wells as revealed in this recent shot from Robin’s superb micro-copter.
The larger of the wells contained water logged timber and animal bones over a base of chalk blocks and a bronze Later-Roman coin was extracted from the lower fill from flotting the environmental samples.
Large quantities of varied Roman-period pottery sherds have been recovered which when fully analysed should give dating evidence for the various features. Amongst the pottery is an unusual assemblage of pierced pottery bases which are causing much discussion amongst the archaeologists and finds specialists. Whilst one is obviously a small strainer the others are more enigmatic with many possible uses being suggested, including incense burners or vented cooking pot lids, but no definite purpose has as yet been resolved. The site has also yielded a good deal of iron slag, possibly secondary forging slag, which indicates at least a small scale of metal working on the site which lies at the end of a road from the Roman iron working of the High Weald. The 12 large postholes indicate a building of 18 metres long by 6 metres wide and was probably some form of storage building and being quite close to the river may indicate trade to and from the coast as well as down the east/west and north/south road network which cross at the settlement. These large postholes were clear on the geophysics results of earlier in the year but a series of smaller postholes on the same site and alignment but indicating a probably later building were only found during the excavation.
The excavations form part of the Culver Archaeological Project’s (CAP) long term investigations into the Romano-British landscape of the Ouse Valley in the Barcombe and Ringmer area and follow on from the highly successful community dig of 2013. CAP have always aimed to include the local community in their investigations into the area’s heritage and look forward to the open day at this year’s site when features and finds will be revealed even if the full purpose of the ancient settlement still remains a fascinating mystery to be further investigated.
We have had visits from several local History and Archaeological group over this weekend who have generously added to our funds with donations for which we most gratefully thank them and hope they enjoyed their visits. We also had several of the ‘great and good’ with David Rudling, Ernest Black, Mike Allen and John Manley all visiting and giving us the benefit of their considerable knowledge and experience on Roman settlement, for which we also give our grateful appreciation and feel confident that their interest in the site will continue into the future. David and Mike have already offered some help on coins and enviro samples respectively, Ernest always writes back with valuable insights on any papers I send through to him and John expressed his interest in our intriguing and important site and we discussed possible closer cooperation between CAP and SAS with the hint of a day conference on Roman roadside settlements – watch this space!
For those who are not familiar with where we are digging, Bridge Farm lies just across the road from the Barcombe Mills car park. Access to the site involves a walk through 2 fields southwards along the eastern bank of the River Ouse (to National Grid Reference TQ429146). A plan of the route and site location plus articles of CAP’s previous discoveries and excavation blog can be viewed on the this website.
So this week is your last chance to get involved in this year’s dig before the site is closed and subsequently back-filled.