Friday’s dig was cancelled because of rain, but luckily the showers on Sunday, though spectacular, were short enough for us to get some good digging done.
Between the front door and the wood shed, directly outside the kitchen window, Peggy’s oldest sister clearly remembers there was a well. So when we succeeded in clearing the last part of the original ground surface from its blanket of WW2 demolition rubble, across the front of the cottage to the east of the front door, my mother and I couldn’t help being disappointed that there was no sign of it. It may have been back filled for safety reasons, or perhaps it was located elsewhere.
We weren’t entirely disappointed though. Directly under the probable kitchen window we did find and partially excavate a substantial but shallow concrete open gully or drain, about 3 foot long and a foot wide, which fed into the ceramic ‘gully drain’ we found last week. This may have taken grey water from the kitchen sink to feed the vegetable garden, or rainwater collected from the cottage and/or barn roofs to feed a water-tank, or a well, further to the east.
Next dig day we plan to extend a trench across the front of the woodshed, whose north-east corner should be located at the foot of the large mound of bulldozed demolition rubble – if it is not too deeply buried to be safely excavated! Was its outer wall load bearing; was it sufficient strong to carry the weight of the eastern side of the gable end of the cottage roof which enclosed two of the three upstairs bedrooms, or was it merely a lean-to type structure with just its own roof to support? And can we trace the outlet of our ‘gully drain’? Did it feed a water-tank? It is even possible that the demolition fill on top of our shallow concrete drain/gully, which we have yet to fully excavate, may be hiding something exciting; we need to keep digging for answers!
Nearly forgot to mention our finds – kilos(!) of glass, ceramics (some very nicely decorated), nails and other pieces of miscellaneous metal. Amongst the ceramics we found some interesting examples of shards of a green painted(?) plaster(?) mystery object, which we have regularly found on/in the ground surface under the demolition rubble in front of the house. Several shards had rounded 90 degree corners, and one of the pieces in the above photo clearly had a scroll-like form such as for a moulded pillar or leg – either its top or its base. Exceptionally we have found shards with a red painted(?) decoration, such as in the top left of this photo.
Our small bones may be rabbit – perhaps shot by bored WW2 soldiers with some the .303 cartridges we found, or more likely, with the first two 12 bore shot-gun cartridges(?) we excavated out of the base of the demolition rubble.
The star find of the day was the heel and part of the uppers, with a row of eyelets, of a child’s boot or shoe.
Friday’s weather may or not be wet, but we will be at the car park near the junction of Bexhill Road and Falmer Road, just north of Woodingdean, at 10am, and if the weather is bad will make our final decision whether to dig then. Even if it is too wet to dig we would be happy to give a quick guided tour for anyone interested. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call for further info.