30 September 2012

Latest Results: Oaklands Park

Finally, here is a blog post about the big Independent Historical Research Group survey I have been working on this summer, which is at Oaklands Park, Sedlescombe. Oaklands Park is one of the 'Big Three' Roman iron-working sites by volume of their slag heap, and right next to the Roman road down from Bodiam, so we approached Pestalozzi, the children's charity, who own the land, and they very kindly agreed to let us survey it all.

Margary's line for the main Roman road from Bodiam is marked in green, but for reasons I wont go into just yet (we are still investigating), that is somewhat in doubt south of the river. The site wasn't quite as big as we expected it to be, but there are certainly some very interesting features. To give you an idea of the geography, the playing field you can see towards the northern end is the floodplain of the River Brede, and the site is on the side of a hill, rising to the south, with a paleochannel cutting through. The paleochannel is visible on the results running north-south towards the eastern end of the main survey area. Iron ore can be found on the top of the hill to the south.

The main iron-working area is pretty obvious, hugging the north end of the field, which would also have been the northern edge of the land, with water coming close to this point in Roman times. It has previously been supposed that there was a port here in Roman times, which makes sense. They used to bring coal up the River Brede to Sedlescombe into Victorian times. A couple of enclosures can be seen towards the eastern end, but apart from these, there is a lot less settlement that we expected. Much of the local settlement may be towards the west, under the trees and houses.

Tracks seem to lead everywhere. Here are a couple to note. A track leads south, joining the edge of the paleochannel. This seems to head towards the top of the channel, which also seems to have been dug out to exploit the easy access to iron ore that the channel provides. There seem to be two tracks leading out of the iron-working area to the west. They both appear on the other side of the road, in a field owned by Luff's Farm, where they can be seen to join just before heading around the hill to the south.

IHRG are far from done at this site, there is still more to investigate. Most importantly, the main Roman road to the south, which most likely, is not how Ivan Margary envisioned it.

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