Tag Archives: archaeology

Guided walks: stories, sunshine and surprise ants.

Friday 21st August: 

“Dear Mother, I feel strong and well, the army is making a man of me. I have learnt what rough life is, I shan’t know how to feel when I sleep in a bed again and have my meals off a table, after sleeping on the floor and having my blankets for a chair and my knees or the floor for a table. You would laugh to see us sitting round the tent, laughing and talking, all as happy as can be”.

17 year old Arthur Goodchild writing home to his mother from Shoreham Camp in October 1914 (Courtesy of Henry Finch, www.goodchilds.org).  

Arthur’s story was just one shared on our guided walks through Shoreham on Friday following the old paths of the Army Camp.

meeting-pointAt 11am and 2pm we set off led by Curator Hamish MacGillivray and Project Coordinator Gail Mackintosh from outside the Cafe in Buckingham Park. Our walk took us up through the park, along Downside and over the A27 onto Slonk Hill. This route travelled from where the South edge of the First World War Camp used to be up into the North East corner.


Along the way we stopped regularly to explore stories from the Camp illustrated by dramatic readings from Joanna Wilkins to bring the history to life.


We brought with us a detailed map of the Camp discovered in West Sussex Record Office by local researcher Brian Drury, a selection of images associated with Army Camp life and even a number of archaeological finds uncovered as part of the project.

inspecting-mapView the map on our new project website. 


On Slonk Hill visitors could view our mini-exhibition table and British Pathe Newsreel footage of the boxing in Camp.


But the big attraction was the bell tent kindly donated for the day by Lancing 3rd and 5th Sea Scouts.

bell-tentinside-the-tentAlthough the ants’ nest we discovered after lying down inside was not so welcome . . . . Thankfully our patient visitors saw the funny side and declared it ‘added to the living history experience’.

Finally, thanks to the generous efforts of our hosts, Christina and Rob Keith and their family, there was shade and refreshments on hand for our walkers.

slonk-hill2We are very grateful to our volunteers Debbie and Nicola who supported us throughout the day, to Joanna Wilkins for her excellent readings, to the 3rd and 5th Lancing Sea Scouts for the loan of their tent, to the Cup Cake Cafe for helping promote our event and most importantly to Christina and Rob Keith and their family, not only for their efforts on the day but for allowing us access to their land and supporting us throughout this project – thank you!


WW1 Archaeology Open Day

Saturday 18th July:

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology we hosted an event at Worthing Museum to help visitors discover first-hand the objects and clues archaeologists use to find out about the First World War.

Our expert archaeologists Justin Russell from Archaeology South-East and Luke Barber from the Sussex Archaeological Society, who had provided training for project students and volunteers, were on hand to share their amazing collections. They brought objects from the British, German and French armies that they had collected and in some cases dug up on the Front Lines in France.

Highlights of the collections included:

Some scary shell fragments from the Front Lines,ww1 objects

A practice grenade like those used by Shoreham Army Camp recruits in training,grenade

A pocket camera carried by a soldier,Camera

And a Lee Enfield rifle that was issued to British soldiers,rifle

Also on display were objects uncovered as part of our two metal-detecting training sessions and one mini-excavation on the site of Shoreham Army Camp with Worthing College students and volunteers.nails

The day also featured the chance for our visitors to do some metal-detecting in a mini astro-turf field.metal-detecting

Many thanks to Luke Barber and Justin Russell for their time and sharing their amazing collections with us.

Exhibition moves to Worthing College

11th June: This week the project exhibition, ‘Training for War: Exploring Shoreham Army Camp 1914-1919’ moved to Worthing College for it’s students, teachers and parents to enjoy between the 18th June and 2nd July.

Members of the public will also get a chance to see the display whilst it is up at the College on 20th-21st June and on 27th-28th June between 11am and 5pm.

Hamish installs the boxing dummy.
Hamish installs the boxing dummy.

On show are our graphic displays, finds from the students’ metal-detecting on Slonk Hill and a chance to try out some metal detecting on our mini-field.

The mini-field under construction.
The mini-field under construction.
Installing nails found on Slonk hill by Worthing College students metal-detecting, Sept 2014.
Installing nails found on Slonk hill by Worthing College students metal-detecting, Sept 2014.

The students of the Creative Media and Production Class will also be displaying the films they created as part of the project on their reactions to what they learnt about the Camp.

Over the next few weeks these films will also be made available on our new website page for Student Films.

We will also be re-posting some of the blogs the students kept about their behind the scenes process in creating these films.


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.

Investigating the war horses of Shoreham Army Camp

On 26th January we took a trip to the Lightbox, Woking to discover the hidden story of a WW1 horse shoe.

Back in Autumn 2014 a local landowner offered their field up on the downs above Shoreham to the project for a metal detecting search. Students from Worthing College, under the supervision of Archaeology South-East and Sussex Past archaeologists, found WW1 ammunition, nails and buttons. The grandson of the landowner found an old horse shoe.

Farrier Peter Ibbitson, who had already provided expert advice on the Lightbox’s exhibition ‘The Horse at War: 1914 – 1918′, met us at the gallery to look at our finds. And soon the story of the Shoreham Camp horse shoe  was revealed:

Historical images from Worthing Museum include:
Metal toy gun carriage with 5 horses made by W.Britains c1914.
Oil painting of a farm scene by unknown artist, c1880s.
Detail of British Army farrier on roadside in France from ‘War Illustrated’ magazine 12 Dec 1914.
Postcard of 60 pounder gun c1915.

Edited by exhibitions curator Hamish MacGillivray as part of occasional scrapbook style slideshow series about some of the stories from Worthing Museum.

Thanks to Worthing Museum volunteers for photographs and the Lightbox gallery and museum for their advice.

Metal Detecting for First World War Clues

Robson excited by a find

17th September 2014: Creative Media Production students from Worthing College visit Happy Valley Farm near ‘Slonk Hill’, the site of the Army Camp during the Great War. Happy Valley was specifically the hutments for the artillery soldiers.




Justin Russell, from Archaeology south East was on hand with Luke Barber from the Sussex Archaeology Society to guide the students through the process of marking grids and sweeping the area with metal detectors. Justin and Luke are both experts in WWI related archeological study so it was very exciting to hear them speak about what we might find and identifying the metal that the students dug up!

Luke digging up a find...

During the morning students found clinker from the stoves of the huts, construction materials such as nails and a window latch, quite a few .202 shells from target practice (both contemporary and possibly some from the Great War) and metal hoops from the rucksacks the soldiers wore. Most exciting was a ‘drill round’, found by Luke, which was a blank round used for practicing loading a gun, and a great coat button which was later identified as coming from the South African Army!

Luke overseeing Jorge sweeping the area for artefacts.
Luke overseeing Jorge sweeping the area for artefacts.

Brian Drury was also there, using his GPS device to note the exact location of finds and to try to fix the exact locations of the huts as shown on the maps from 1914.

The morning was a great introduction to practical archaeology and a chance to experience the excitement of digging up artefacts from 100 years ago.

Many thanks to the generosity Happy Valley Farm for allowing our students to wander all over their land digging holes.

Justin, Luke, Hamish, Worthing college students and the family of Happy Valley Farm.
Justin, Luke, Hamish, Worthing college students and the family of Happy Valley Farm.