Newmarket Farm Dig Revised Project Design & Timetable – October 2013

The Newmarket Farm Dig has made excellent progress. We have dug far more of the site than I originally planned, but there are also many areas I had hoped to dig which we may not manage to complete before the end of the year.

Time is running short for this year’s dig – about 20 more dig days before Christmas! So a revised project proposal and timetable is required to make sure everything gets done:

  • Over the next fortnight we will return to the south end of the house in search of the east wall of the ‘sort of lean-to conservatory’, and another possibility of a well.
  • By the middle of October we want to be cleaning up the site; regrowth in the trenches from the severed roots of creeping thistles and brambles is a big problem.
  • Natural England’s planned clearance day on the 15th October, with the help of Brighton Conservation Volunteers (weather, etc. permitting) will be a great help in enabling the site as a whole to be more accessible.
  • We need to make sure that all contexts have been fully recorded and properly surveyed.
  • We also need the site to be looking at its best before our guided tour on the 2nd November.
  • Then we have to back-fill the trenches to prevent the walls and floors from getting damaged by the winter frosts. We plan to use the excavated bricks and flints to outline the buried features which will be hidden under the ground. This should be completed before Christmas!
  • The finds need to be processed and formally recorded.
  • Once the dig has been finished, a summary write-up for the County Archaeologist, etc., needs to be produced within two weeks; a full formal report needs to be submitted within 6 months.
  • A talk is to be given in Woodingdean in January, and it is hoped that other talks may be given elsewhere.
  • The results of the dig needs to be circulated to as wide an audience as possible – including being registered in national heritage databases.

Only if we have time, I would like to excavate;

  • more of the east wall of the cottage to the south of our enigmatic concrete platform – are there any signs of the fireplace on the east wall of the kitchen/back room;
  • more of the internal dividing wall, just in case the foundations of any unexpected structures turn up;
  • the area immediately beyond (to the north) of the garden gate to further delineate the entrance into the site.

As a result of our research on the Newmarket Farm, a number of further archaeological targets have become of interest. I would very much like to excavate immediately below some of the hard landscape features of the Newmarket cottage site – this would enable us to excavate some in-situ archaeology dating to the time of the site’s construction. I would also like to excavate some of the rest of the site, including more of its boundary walls and gateways, the underground water tank south of the cottage, the surface of the demolition rubble mound, and the farmyard next-door – with its barn, stable, and other structures. Oscar Selbach, between 1918 and 1925, used – or planned to use – the area between Balsdean and Newmarket Farms to provide water for his proposed housing estates on the Woodingdean side of their surrounding hillsides. His water engineering scheme(s) could also be the subject of another dig. Another subject of enquiry is the use of the Balsdean/Newmarket Hill area during WW2. However, (almost) all of these potential projects will have to be the subject of a formal application process for another year. I need to ensure I finish the current project first!

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