2017’s 25th anniversary conference
Breaking new ground; engaging in the past – a celebration of archaeology in the South-East and beyond
Saturday 7th October 2016
Kings Church, Lewes, East Sussex
We are delighted to announce that this year’s CBA South-East Annual Conference and AGM is now set for 7th October and will be hosted by Kings Church in Lewes. This year is a special one for CBA South-East as it marks our 25th birthday as an independent charity, and we have a stellar line-up to mark the occasion with speakers including CBA Director Dr Mike Heyworth, Prof. Chris Stringer (British Museum), Prof. Carenza Lewis (Uni. Lincoln), Dr Matt Pope (UCL), and Dr Paul Bennett (Canterbury Arch. Trust). The conference is a celebration of archaeological work undertaken in the south-east and beyond over the past 25 years, and it promises to be a special event. The programme and ticket form are now available. Any questions, please email Steven Cleverly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2016 Conference Report
‘Pots, Palaces Parks: Archaeology in the South East AD 1000–1700’
Saturday 19th November 2016
Sevenoaks School (Recital Room), Sevenoaks, Kent
The conference commenced with a paper from CBA South Committee member Natalie Cohen about some new research and finds of ancient graffiti. The new study had examined walls at Knole House, Bodiam Castle and cellars at Winchelsea. There were an intriguing collection of inscriptions including fleets of medieval sailing ships, many ancient names and some curious symbols and signs that were not builders or mason marks.
Mike Brace talked about St Mary Magdalen medieval hospital, whose cemetery contained many remains with signs of the feared disease of leprosy. He also spoke about the study of the pottery found from the excavations. The Winchester location is proving to be an interesting area for new fabrics, with some of the pottery coming from a number of very large deep pits. The site consisted of a series of alms houses, a master house and adjacent and adjoining Chapel, with a number of burials recovered from an earlier period below the chapel floor.
Woking Palace already has a fascinating history especially from the late medieval and Tudor periods. The moated site is a complex of buildings with archaeological investigations providing evidence for the chronology of the structures built. It was quite remarkable to link these structures with historical people. It was all brought vividly to life by the speaker Richard Savage.
Anne Bone talked about the new and exciting discoveries found in West Sussex and the South Downs National Park revealing a hidden history of medieval parks and many other features in the landscape. The information now gained from the LIDAR survey is being used in association with old maps to engage young people in further research projects.
Andrew Mayfield’s paper considered community archaeology and how LIDAR had opened up lots of potential for field walking ground truthing and desk top studies. LIDAR has produced numerous images of features and sites within previously difficult terrains lying in woods, stripping away the trees and revealing so many hidden details. His example of Randall manor, which had no previously known record in the landscape, had been revealed by this new technology.
LIDAR also featured in Andrew Margett’s talk about medieval farming. It had proved a useful tool in identifying features and buildings associated with husbandry, farming and dairy production in and around the Haywards Heath area. The survey has produced huge amounts of detail showing field systems, droveways and even cow sheds. Again new projects involved the examination of old maps and documents, and the name ‘Vachery’ hinting at indications of this past rural activity.
The final speaker was Dr Amanda Richardson who spoke about the creation and development of deer parks, and how their original use was for containing deer herds for hunting and sport, but changed over the succeeding centuries. During the Tudor and later 17th century deer parks became a figure of status and even a symbol of national pride. Many continental travellers published that England and Scotland contained more parks than any other country. It was a change of direction in the later periods to an interest in ‘landscape’ gardening which saw the decline of deer hunting and the hunting aspect change to fox hunting, on more open terrains.
John Funnell, Grants Officer CBA South East
2015 Conference Report
‘Life in the Mesolithic and new perspectives on the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition’ Saturday 14th November 2015 Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey
Our understanding of the Mesolithic in Britain has increased substantially in recent times due to the considerable contributions made by commercial and community archaeology alongside continued academic attention. This day conference brought together talks from each of these sectors, revealing new discoveries being made on the Mesolithic in the South-East of Britain and introducing some of the fascinating insights emerging from projects focused upon the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition from other areas of the country. Click here for full schedule
The morning session concentrated on recent discoveries and how they can inform future research. Martin Bell emphasised the opportunities provided by environmental evidence to re-examine previously known Mesolithic sites to determine settlement and chronologies.
Phil Jones presented the results from Bletchingley, Surrey. The site is overlooked by the North Downs and traverses clay and sand geologies, sitting on a watershed between streams running East to the Medway and West to the Mole. It was suggested that this was a strategic choice when following migratory herds.
The submerged landscape of Bouldner Cliff in the Solent was revealed by Gary Momber from which was found wood with tool marks and evidence for tangential splitting which is interpreted as a possible boat building site. It was proposed that the loss of land may have enforced adaptation and the emergence of trade to continue earlier links with lands recently submerged.
While no post-excavation results were available from the work on the Bexhill relief road scheme, Mike Donnelly was able to present an outline of the discovery of a number of Mesolithic scatters from which it was estimated that there could be at least 230000 lithic artefacts. This site with its huge Late Mesolithic assemblage again shows the value of wetland areas for research.
The afternoon session moved the focus to discussion of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition and what different areas of research could add to the knowledge of this period. Fraser Sturt reviewed the progress of the Stepping Stones project and it was suggested that it was time to review the image of the transition and to discuss whether C14 dates are representative or skew our understanding of the period since they have largely been taken from mainland sites when islands could be used as stepping stones across the seas.
A current research project on caves and springs in south west England was presented by Caroline Rosen on behalf of Jodie Lewis. This area is rich in cave and spring sites often associated with depositional practices during the Mesolithic. Some practices in these places suggest a persistence of ritual activities during a ‘messy’ mix of traditions as Neolithic groups moved around the south west.
Rick Schulting discussed another avenue of evidence for Mesolithic and Neolithic societies. There are few Mesolithic skulls to study but across Europe skulls exhibit evidence for healed fractures rather than death blows. However during the Neolithic this changes and a number of skulls exhibit the marks of blunt force injuries at the time of death: this percentage is small but higher than the expected average suggesting an undercurrent of violence.
The final paper given by Don Henson was an overview of the history of presenting this period establishing that until recently the Mesolithic was seen as a dull, academic specialism. However, newsworthy discoveries are now populating the period so that an engaging story can be told.
The emphasis of all speakers at this conference was of the importance of environmental analysis and an understanding of the geology and landscape of the sites under research to enable the peopling of the Mesolithic in such a way as to enhance public appreciation of the period.
Rose Hooker, Secretary CBA South East