Once again the excavation at Bridge Farm has proved highly successful revealing amazing archaeology including the remains of the bases of 13 large upright timbers, of an 18m by 6m building, still surviving in the water-logged conditions after nearly 2000 years. These were uncovered and recorded but left in situ as the best method of preservation, with only one partial post-base being removed for further analysis and potential dating.
However the star find of the dig came from below this level as a carved timber fragment some 45 x 20 x 15cm was found lying under the base of a post. In practical terms this reuse of an ornate beam end could have been just a pad to support the new post. However such use may also have symbolic implications with the use of timber from a previous building or activity on the site marking both closure and/or continuity. The team are currently trying to find comparable timbers and usage from other sites to help with the interpretation but these in situ water-logged timbers make the site potentially of National importance .
Amidst the large round post holes were a series of seemingly unrelated smaller squarer post holes which would suggest another phase of building on the site. Could this be the building that preceded the larger one and from which the carved beam end was salvaged? Whilst at present this is pure speculation it may become clearer as the pottery sherds from the various holes are analyzed and hopefully dated.
A large assemblage of Romano pottery sherds has been collected from the various ditches and pits which should greatly facilitate dating and phasing the site. Several Roman coins have also been found in excavation and wet sieving, along with other interesting items, which will add to those already found from the extensive metal detecting campaign carried out over the whole site and surrounding fields over many years.
The large pit, thought to be a well, has also yielded a couple of coins crucially from lower, sealed, fills amidst blackened animal bones, chalk and sandstone chunks and waterlogged round-wood fragments. As with the possible buildings there is much post-excavation analysis to be done before any firm interpretation can be made of this fascinating glimpse into the life of our Romano-British forebears.
Whilst the Open Day had to be cancelled due to the torrential rain and wind which made access unsafe we did show 4 local archaeological/historical societies around the site the previous weekend including our friends from the Ringmer group who turn out regularly to assist with some of the boring stuff like shifting lines for the geophys surveys.
The site is now closed and being on a busy working farm with no public access is not open to view but Rob and David will be undertaking an extensive programme of talks during the winter to inform the surrounding communities about the excavation and its results and hopefully gain potential support for the projects post-ex expenses. The site will now be back-filled and returned to grassland pasture for the fine herd of cattle that has kept us company during the summer. However during the autumn 3 information boards are due to erected in the Barcombe Mills car park giving details of the Romano-British settlement and the results of the 2013 excavations.
Once more our thanks to the 60 or so volunteers who not only supported the dig with their efforts but also their cash. Without you we would still just have some interesting geophys!