Metal-detecting and mini excavation reveal clues about Shoreham Camp

28th March: Garden Investigation
With the generous permission of one of our volunteers we ventured once again into exploring what evidence, if any, of the Camp remains beneath the houses and hills of Shoreham.

Justin Russell from Archaeology South-East and Luke Barber from the Sussex Archaeological Society provided some training for our older volunteers in the techniques of metal-detecting and excavating a small test pit in our volunteer’s garden.

Luke Barber and Justin Russell  testing the metal detectors
Luke Barber (left) and Justin Russell (right) testing the metal detectors.

Justin used 1916 and modern maps along-side aerial photographs to match up  where the garden lay in relation to the where the Camp used to be. This revealed 4 barrack blocks crossing the area; one was now under a modern road, another under the conservatory, one lay across the centre of the lawn and the fourth lay at the very bottom edge of the garden.

We marked out where one barrack block would have crossed the lawn with string. Luke then taught the volunteers the basics of using a metal detector. Given the restricted size and disturbed nature of the ground we treated the whole area as our sample and with respect for the lawn we only searched for non-ferrous material (non-iron) like brass.

Volunteer extracting object found with metal detector.
Volunteer extracting object found with metal detector.

At the bottom of the garden we excavated a small section of the deep-beds. Our hope was to locate a path or drainage associated with the barrack block at the bottom of the garden. However, whilst we discovered plenty of construction materials such as nails and glass we did not find any features.

excavation 1 excavation 2

Despite the horrendous weather the volunteers soldiered on and we would like to thank them for their hard work and Justin and Luke for their expertise and support.

excavation in rain

May: The Results are in
We have just recently received a full report, kindly produced by Justin Russell, on the objects we uncovered back in March.

In addition to more modern discoveries and even some World War Two materials, a number of the objects were identified as likely from the First World War Camp. These included construction materials such as nails and glass along-side items from everyday life like ceramic crockery and part of a fountain pen. There was even an eyelet from a ground sheet which may well have come from the early tents at the Camp.

Ground-sheet eyelet., March 2015. Courtesy of Justin Russell, Archaeology South-East.
Ground-sheet eyelet., March 2015.
Courtesy of Justin Russell, Archaeology South-East.

Our volunteer whose garden we explored found a very interesting object in the weeks after our excavation; a .303 bullet. Justin explains the bullet shows no signs of having been fired and its unusual, diameter, blunt tip and lack of  cannelure

(the groove around the cylinder of the bullet, to secure it in the cartridge) suggest it was a training/drill round probably of late First World War date.

Comparison of .303 bullets. Left: long tracer bullet, Centre: training/drill round found in garden, Right: regular .303 bullet. Courtesy of Justin Russell Archaeology South-East.

Comparison of .303 bullets. Left: long tracer bullet, Centre: training/drill round found in garden, Right: regular .303 bullet.
Courtesy of Justin Russell Archaeology South-East.

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2 thoughts on “Metal-detecting and mini excavation reveal clues about Shoreham Camp”

  1. Your first-time detecting is the success. Frist time detecting you find lots of coins. I think your detector is high sensitivity metal detector. I see your all photos, I thought you dug very deep and then found the bullet. I have a question, how deep you dig?

    Like

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