Late last year, I was involved with a magnetometer survey of Plumpton Roman villa with Chris Butler Archaeology Services on behalf of Plumpton Agricultural College. This means that his team did all the hard work and I processed the data. As the villa foundations were constructed of flint, it doesn't show up, but the enclosure around it does. There are also strong magnetic readings at either end of the enclosure, which may relate to a hypocaust system. There were also signs of field systems associated with the villa to the south, and a possible Roman road to the west, which I was very pleased about. This pattern of a road passing rather than heading to a villa is repeated elsewhere, such as Barcombe.
Plumpton Villa magnetometry
At the time time, David Millum of the Culver Archaeology Project led a team surveying the villa itself with an earth resistance meter, which showed up the walls very nicely. It seems to be a standard winged villa, but with the western wing extending further to the north and west than it should. The villa as a whole looks like it has at least two phases. At either end, where we get the strong magnetic responses on the magnetometry, we also get strong high resistance areas, showing more than just the walls. Maybe it is just rubble, maybe it is something to do with a hypocaust.
Plumpton Villa earth resistance
This weekend, I taught a geophysics dayschool here as part of the Sussex School of Archaeology. As well as covering the usual earth resistance and magnetometry, we also did some resistance tomography and a single line of radar, both along the green line in the images below. I have layed them out horizontally at the correct position next to the green line that they were surveyed along, so just imagine that they are vertical slices through the ground along that line.
First the tomography. Several of the walls show as red points towards the top, plus at either end of the villa, we get broader and deeper high resistance confirming the standard earth resistance. There is also a hint of something heading further down under the ground at either end.
Plumpton Villa resistance tomography
Finally, the single line of radar we did. The ground was a bit wet, so the top layer is a bit of a mess, but many of the walls are still visible below that. The two walls visible in the centre of the villa are at the expected depth, but those to the west and east are deeper, further suggesting a hypocaust system.
Plumpton Villa GPR traverse
The Sussex School of Archaeology will be running a training excavation on the villa in the summer of 2014.