About David Cuthbertson

Sharing my explorations of the world around me, both locally and philosophically. My Asperger's Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder may help explain some of my positive and negative qualities.

Project Title?!

Newmarket Farm by Bob (Desmond) Phipps

Those who read my previous post will know I have been struggling to find a good title for my revised history project. I had a self printed business card which used the above picture as a background image. Its original title was:

Newmarket Farm History Project

But the new project title:

Of Sheep & Fish: A History of the South Downs between Lewes and Brighton

is far to long, but:

Of Sheep & Fish History Project

though shorter, is more confusing… Which means I should think of yet another title.

Public Interest

1875 sketch of the deconsecrated Balsdean Chapel. From W. T. Quartermain: The Parish Churches of Sussex
Drawings from the East Sussex volume, 1865, held at the Sussex Archaeological Society, with added images 1875 sketch of the deconsecrated Balsdean Chapel.

Based on my walks and talks just about no-one has heard of the Newmarket Farm. But most have heard of Balsdean and many locally know of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve. So, whilst an account of Balsdean’s medieval history is outside of the scope of a history of Newmarket Farm (built in 1830 as part of the Kingston near Lewes estate), it would be of great interest to the readers of my book. The same would apply to a history (both natural and prehistorical) of the nature reserve.

The shortest descriptive subtitle I can think of is:

… A South Downs History Project

which is good but needs something to go in front.

Of Sheep & Fish: A South Downs History Project

The sheep of Lewes and the fish of Brighton were crucial influences on my downland project area. However, the project is largely about the downland in between.

Two important factors led to the study area becoming a national nature reserve; sheep and cattle:

  • Sheep helped create the short chalk grassland necessary for the success of the early spider orchids which are one of the key species at its eastern end.
  • Cattle were ideally suited to graze the much more fertile Newmarket Bottom, and may have helped create the habitat best suited for its other key species – the wart biter cricket – in the western end of the reserve. At the 1868 trial of the murderer of Newmarket Farm tenant David Baldy, it was revealed that Baldy had been tending bullocks in Newmarket Bottom on the day of his death.
1907 postcard of oxen on the South Downs pulling a hay cart accompanied by two agricultural workers. Credit: Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.

Of Sheep & Bullocks: A South Downs History Project

I like this project title. Bullocks were another name for oxen. Before the advent of farm machinery oxen did most of the heavy work pulling carts, waggons and ploughs. They had a greater endurance and pulling power than horses when working in teams, but they were slower and less intelligent than horses. The advent of farm machinery during the 19th century caused the demise of the working ox.

A Decision!

As you may have gathered, I struggle when it comes to making decisions. I have two possible titles each with two different emphases:

  • Of Sheep & Fish emphasizes its wider geography – both physical and political. My latest researches have been increasingly involved with both.
  • Of Sheep & Bullocks emphasizes its agricultural and natural historical aspects. These were at the heart of my original research interests.

And the winner is…

Of Sheep & Bullocks: A South Downs History Project


Of Sheep and Fish

Newmarket Farm by Bob Phipps. Painted from his childhood memories.

Newmarket Farm by Bob Phipps. Painted from his childhood memories.

It has been a while since I wrote a progress report; I have been busy with other stuff (lots of new commitments), but I have also been busy pulling together a new formal historical archaeology project proposal for this project as a whole. This has been happening on and off for the past two or three years now, and has resulted in a number of changes of emphasis.

Of Sheep and Fish: A Historical Archaeology Project Proposal. Click this link to download or view the pdf.

The need to write up my 2013 Newmarket Farm Dig hasn’t changed, but the recommendation that it becomes part of a bigger historical archaeology project is an exciting opportunity to enable all my hard work to be more easily viewed by both academic archaeologists and historians, and not just with the general public. It has also been an excellent opportunity to review the amazing historical discoveries I have made, exactly where I am at present, and what I hope to achieve in the future. It entails a lot more work, but I strongly believe that it is worth it.

New Project Name Considerations

Several names were considered before making a final choice:

  • Newmarket Farm Dig Project only covers the dig as such, and most people would associate Newmarket with the racecourse in Cambridgeshire.
  • There is a Green Hill, from the hymn;
There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall
Where our dear Lord was crucified;
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, We cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us;
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven;
Save by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough,
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate,
Of heaven and let us in.

Oh dearly dearly has he loved,
And we must love him too;
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his work to do.

This fits very well with the murder of Newmarket Farm tenant David Baldy, in 1868, and the sentiments expressed by both the newspapers at the time and the confession of his murderer, Martin Brown. However, the title has been used by others before me and it sets a tone that only partially expresses my intentions for the project. I felt it set too much of a melancholy air, which comes naturally to me. I believe that it would communicate to a reader that the murder of David Baldy should symbolise the death of an ideal past. The trouble is, I believe that such an idealised past was just that, an idealised one sided view of the past which in reality never entirely existed. I almost fell into this trap after my researches for two talks which I gave earlier this year, largely centred on the Georgian period, and which featured Rottingdean’s most (in)famous vicar, the Rev. Dr. Hooker. Amongst his many achievements, he ran a prep school in Rottingdean for boys destined for Eton College. Some of his old boys later became involved – directly or indirectly – with the Condition of England and Young England movements. They believed, following the ideas promoted in the novels of Thomas Carlyle and Benjamin Disraeli, that we should return to the golden age of High Medieval feudalism; “an absolute monarch and a strong Established Church, with the philanthropy of noblesse oblige as the basis for its paternalistic form of social organisation”.

Their ideas fitted my romantic idealistic version of the history Newmarket Farm as ‘tragedy caused by the evils of progress’ so well. I had an Arcadian vision of happy shepherds caring for the village flock which fed on beautiful thyme scented springy downland turf, as according to ancient custom, maintained by a benevolent Lord of the Manor. Kingston was owned by Lewes Priory. Its monks would have been responsible for the moral and physical welfare of its tenants. The Lord of the Manor, under the watchful eyes of both King and Church, would have had a duty to do the same. In Kingston this system must have worked well, for the evils of enclosure (for it disproportionately benefited the biggest land owners) only took place at the very end of the Georgian period. There is a large volume of anti-enclosure literature which I could draw on in support of this story. It brought a loss of grazing and other rights previously enjoyed by the lower orders in the village. It enabled that holy of holies – the ancient chalk downland turf – to be broken. Put to the plough. I consider the action of an iron plough to be comparable to that of a sword of steel, committing the act responsible for the death of much of these beautiful downs. This evil deed was later accompanied by another, known in the USA as devil’s rope, or barbed wire. The sheep were no longer free to roam. The romantic shepherd boy was forced off of the land to find employment in Britain’s dark satanic mills. Such a story draws very much on William Blake’s deeply moving Songs of Innocence and Experience.

'Cain and Abel offering up sacrifices', 1873. 'The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation'.

‘Cain and Abel offering up sacrifices’, 1873. ‘The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation’. From Wikimedia Commons.

I believe this is also that of the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Cain the ‘dirt farmer’ murdered Abel the shepherd after God preferred Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb to that of Cain’s grain. This is a story of tradition killed by progress. The name Abel may derive from a word meaning “herdsman” and Cain from a word meaning “metal smith”. Similar myths and legends are also found in other early agricultural societies.

As a result of progress in the form of the Industrial Revolution, the building of remote outfarms, far out on the dry and open downs, became financially viable. Welsh slate, one of the first materials to be quarried in industrial quantities, was a miracle material. It was a lightweight and weatherproof roofing material, unsurpassed even today. It was easily shaped and so ideal to combine with cast iron gutters for the collection of rainwater, saving on the cost of digging a well. Traditional thatch is heavy, far from weatherproof and is not suited to the collection of rainwater. The light weight Welsh slate saved on the costs of transporting heavy duty building materials, otherwise necessary to support a heavy roof. It would have been seen as an excellent example of progress. However, such a remote labourers’ dwelling would have resulted in social and economic isolation. The resultant suffering may have been desired by Medieval hermits, but such was their calling. But a farm labourer, along with his wife and children would have had no choice. And there is evidence that the farm labourer tenant families in Newmarket Farm did suffer. The worst record of deaths caused by diseases associated with poverty in the whole of Kingston, over a one hundred year period, was in Newmarket Farm. The only recorded murder in Kingston over the same time period was also of a Newmarket Farm tenant. And the downs suffered too. At about the same time as the Newmarket Farm was constructed its surrounding downland was put to the plough. Immediately after WW1 this iconic downland, famous for its relatively unspoiled and open character, was enclosed in barbed wire. In 1938 a Newmarket Farm tenant lost his job and his family ended up the workhouse. His story was featured in the Daily Express; he could earn more on the dole than as a farm labourer; evidence that he had not been paid extra by way of compensation. By the end of WW2 all historic farm buildings in the area had been destroyed by allied military training exercises. In the 1970s I became aware that part of this iconic downland had received legal protection from further destruction. It become a National Nature Reserve and was duly surrounded by yet more barbed wire!

This makes for a very beautiful story of tragedy and loss. But at best it is only partly true. Stories of murder, death and tragedy sell newspapers. Happiness and contentment are less often recorded. They are much harder to find. But as recorded in an interview with the Phipps family, life in Newmarket Farm consisted of both ups and downs:

  • Skylarks and Barbed Wire: The History of a Southdown Outfarm was a better project title that captured something of the ups and downs of life on these, er, Downs. Skylarks communicated the idyllic, and barbed wire, the harsh realities. However…
  • Of Sheep & Fish: A History of the South Downs between Lewes and Brighton has now been chosen as a title. The history associated with this remote farm labourers’ cottage and barns was largely determined by its geography. Its story has strong connections with both the ups and downs of the southdown sheep of the Lewes district as well as the ups and downs of the fishing town of Brighton; their importance were confirmed by my Georgian researches. This story has been summarised in my leaflet Of Sheep, Fish and Coal. This project title also alludes to John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, which concerned itself with poverty stricken farm labourers. It also pays homage to Dave Bangs excellent book, Whitehawk Hill: Where the Turf Meets the Surf, about the nearby Whitehawk Downs immediately east of Brighton.

Project Scope

South view over South Downs towards Brighton with the Falmer Stadium in the middle. From a hill north of Brighton. Near Ditchling, East Sussex.

View south from Ditchling Beacon of Newmarket Hill and its associated ridge between Lewes and Brighton, above the Falmer Stadium (centre). Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The outfarm was a remote labourers’ cottage, farmyard and barns. It was built in 1830, or shortly after, near the far western end of the parish of Kingston near Lewes as a result of the enclosure of the Kingston estate. In 1922 it was sold to Balsdean Farm, immediately to its south. The project scope involves the agricultural and social histories of both Kingston and Balsdean, as well as their wider influences; a series of contexts including Lewes, Brighton, Sussex, Britain and its global connections (where appropriate). Also of importance is the area’s physical geography; geology, climate, and land forms. And last, but certainly not least, are the personalities of Newmarket Farm’s numerous ‘stakeholders’; farm workers, managers and owners, travellers passing through, as well as military and recreational visitors. And I certainly haven’t forgotten Newmarket Farm’s last tenant, my mother, who may have been born there (or perhaps the less romantic Brighton Maternity Hospital) in 1942, immediately before the army requisitioned it and its surrounding downland for military training purposes.

Aims and Objectives

Based on the historical research my mother and I have done over the past ten years or so, potential gaps in our knowledge and theories I have formed which further research may be able to test, I have developed a series of aims and objectives to help guide the project towards a series of (hopefully) successful outcomes. Either collectively or on their own, I hope the project outcomes will enable others to make their own connections with this historic South Downs landscape between Lewes and Brighton.

  1. Aim: To research the geographical and historical contexts of the study area, previous to Kingston’s enclosure; Prehistoric–1825.
    1. Peggy admires the view to the SE; 28th April 2013.

      View to the SE of Newmarket Farm

      Objective: A consideration of the geology, geomorphology and related physical factors which helped create the iconic grassland landscape between Eastbourne and the River Adur, the area from where the place-name ‘South Downs’ originated.
    2. Unimproved Southdown sheep.

      Unimproved Southdown sheep.

      Objective: The influence of the region’s prehistoric and historic past on this landscape’s creation, with particular reference to southdown sheep and the sheep-corn system.
      • Why were the South Downs were originally just from the Adur to Eastbourne?
    3. Coal Briggs on Brighton Beach, by Constable.

      Coal Briggs on Brighton Beach, by Constable.

      Objective: The socio-economic consequences of the resultant deforestation will be investigated, with particular reference to the importation of coal.
      • Thesis: Sheep eat trees, so no firewood, so cooking with coal.
      • Review potential data sources, including fireplace evidence from standing buildings, the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig, including evidence of pre-Victorian coal, firegrates in excavations in South Down areas east vs west of the Adur.
    4. Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston's open fields, on its way to Brighton.Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston's open fields, on its way to Brighton. Painting by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1785.

      Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston’s open fields, on its way to Brighton. Painting by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1785. Image Wikimedia.

      Objective: Original research on local place-names providing evidence for the study area’s history; i.e., Kingston, Newmarket Hill, Juggs Road and Beggars Bush.
      • Saxon Kingston;
      • Newmarket from mearc geat = new boundary gap (13th c. hundred boundary changes?);
      • Juggs Rd (OED 15th c. nickname for low woman, mid 17th c. Brighton is one of biggest south coast fishing towns, late 17th c. collapse of Brighton’s North Sea fisheries, early 18th c. serious poverty may have forced fishwives to sell wares in Lewes);
      • Beggars Bush furlong name in Kingston near Lewes on route of Juggs Road (named sometime between 16th – late 18th c. The furlong’s location is the best place for the first tree along the Juggs Road from Brighton to Lewes. Was it named after just such a shady tree along the road over the sheep deforested Downs, used by poor Brighton fishwives carrying heavy loads of fish for sale in Lewes?).
    5. Sheep shearers, Flanders, from the Grimani Breviary c. 1510

      Sheep shearers, Flanders, from the Grimani Breviary c. 1510. Image Wikimedia.

      Objective: Were Medieval era peasants better off than in Georgian / Victorian times?
      • Some evidence suggests that Victorian agricultural labourers were worse off than their Tudor ancestors, but can it be proved?
    6. Hyde Manor, The Street

      Hyde Manor, The Street, Kingston  near Lewes. Has an 18th century exterior. Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved], by Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

      Objective: Can Georgian / Victorian architecture be used to indicate the politics of the owner and the treatment of their labourers?
      • Condition of England writers were for the most part Tories, and were against the ideals of Whig industrialists. They looked to the Medieval past for inspiration. They wrote about the present-day mistreatment of the poor. They liked Neo-Gothic architecture. Progressive Whigs liked Neo-Classical buildings for this was the architecture which replaced Medieval Gothic at the time of the Renaissance. Gothic was a derogatory name for such architecture (allegedly) coined by anti-Catholic Renaissance Protestants as propaganda. Land owning Tories looked back to an (alleged) golden age of Medieval feudalism. But is the thesis of Tory = Gothic and Whig = Classical too simplistic?
      • Did Tory landowners treat their labourers better than Whigs? Carlyle and Disraeli claimed that they did. Rural tories vs industrial whigs, supportive vs exploitative, tradition vs progress. Is this too simplistic? Simplistic party lines certainly changed in relation to the Reform Act.
      • A balanced critique of such views needs to be found. Also a study of some of the notable families of Sussex should be made; to include their politics, the treatment of their labourers and their taste in architecture. Was Thomas Rogers V a Whig or a Tory? And James Hodson and John King, the Trustees of his estate? A list of their associates would also be of use.
    7. Objective: Research and understand the consequences of the American Revolution and Anglo-French War (1778–1783) on the project area.
      • My research on the American Revolutionary War and the resultant Anglo-French war, suggested a possible unrecorded signal-fire on Newmarket Hill, based on studies of the Duke of Richmond, a strange symbol on Yeakell and Gardner 1778-1783 map of Sussex and a 1787 print of Brighton Races.
      • These wars may also have influenced the date of the Prince of Wales’ arrival in Brighton.
      • A strange symbol on Newmarket Hill shown on Yeakell and Gardner map, which was commissioned by the Duke of Richmond at time of war. He was head of the Sussex Militia and Master-General of Ordnance. A 1787 Brighton Races print showed a possible fire beacon (used as raised viewing platform) and a large frame capable of supporting a fire cage, of similar shape to the strange symbol on Newmarket Hill. A fire cage was shown east of Brighton on an Elizabethan map, and a later Napoleonic signal station was recorded for Whitehawk Hill, but no such structures were recorded on Yeakell and Gardner’s map for either Whitehawk Hill, or for any other known beacon sites. More research is required.
    8. 21

      Rev. Dr. Hooker. Photo from St Margaret of Antioch, Rottingdean.

      Objective: Research and understand the life and times of Rottingdean’s vicar, 1792–1838, Rev. Dr. Hooker.
      • Connected with: Jane Austen, the Church of England, cricket, the aristocracy, the Grand Tour, Eton College, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ireland, hunting, schooling, music and painting, smuggling, the Napoleonic Wars, the shepherd scholar John Dudeney and more!! His rich and varied life sheds much light on the lives of almost all stratas of society, in the last decades of the Georgian period.
    9. Smuggle1

      Book about the Hawkhurst smuggling gang. Image Wikimedia.

      Objective: Potential influences of smuggling in the area and its connections with national politics.
      • In Kingston an ancestor of the Tuppens (a family of shepherds) was believed to be involved in smuggling. In 1802 and 1804 the shepherd, Henry Tuppen, ‘mysteriously’ acquired the money to buy two cottages in Kingston. Also to be studied is Rev. Hooker’s involvement in Rottingdean. To be emphasized is that smuggling was not merely a romantic game. It was organised crime, similar to the Mafia, or that of the South American drug cartels today. To be included are their political connections. The contraband recovered on more than one occasion from the remote downland hamlet of Balsdean weas just a tiny part of this huge criminal enterprise.
    10. 1186587460140625

      “A Newmarket Hill Character drawn upon the spot” by James Gillray, 1804.. Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

      Objective: The influences of the Napoleonic Wars on the study area.
      • The Prince of Wales required military protection. He regularly organised huge sham battles on and in the vicinity of Newmarket Hill. They had a positive influence on the public’s opinion of the British Army (Jane Austen’s ‘scarlet fever’).
      • Include Gillray’s 1802 cartoon of Lt. Col. George Leigh, in charge of The Prince of Wales’ own 10th Light Dragoons, A Newmarket Hill Character (he was married to Lord Byron’s sister and Beau Brumel was in his regiment). Also research the influence of Gillray’s political cartoons which, according to Napoleon, “did more than all the armies in Europe to bring me down.”
      • Rev. Hooker’s role (as Capt. Mainwaring) in charge of the defence of Rottingdean, as part of the voluntary defence force for Sussex, organised by the Duke of Richmond, who was also responsible for the Sussex Militia.
    11. 'Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers - with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills'; a rider hurtling down a hillside to right with terror, his hat thrown from his head and crop flying behind him; other riders, tents and a windmill on plain below at right.

      ‘Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers – with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills…’ John Leech, 1865. Image from British Museum.

      Objective: Influences of Georgian tourism on the area, in particular hunting.
      • The nationally famous Brookside Harriers which hunted over Kingston and Balsdean Downs; both the Rogers family in Kingston and the Rev. Hooker in Rottingdean had been Masters of the hunt, and this connected them with many other significant figures, both locally and nationally, including the Prince of Wales.
    12. The Shepherd, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake, 1789. Image, Wikimedia.

      The Shepherd, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake, 1789. Image, Wikimedia.

      Objective: Was the South Downs in art and literature seen as an arcadian ideal?
    13. Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Cartoon by Gillray.

      Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Cartoon by Gillray. Credit: CC BY, Wellcome Collection.

      Objective: Was the isolation of Balsdean’s downland location a reason for the medical activities there?
      • Mr Sutton’s variolation clinics (1786) and the (lunatic) asylum (1825–29) of Drs. King and Attree — the latter were both important figures in Brighton’s history.
      • The Attrees were a well connected Sussex family and the Rogers family married their daughters on two occasions.
  2. Aim: To understand the enclosure of Kingston near Lewes and the building of Newmarket Farm; 1825–1833.
    1. Kingston Farm valuation, 1852. From the Hodson family archive.

      Kingston Farm valuation, 1852. From the Hodson family archive.

      Objective: To understand the pre- and post-enclosure agricultural workings of Kingston’s three manorial estates.
      • To what degree was the enormous expense incurred by enclosure offset by future profitability? Include assessment of available resources; on and off-farm; mineral, timber, labour, etc.
      • Of use is the large and detailed Wiston Archive, created for Kingston Estate sale in 1834. This has been analysed in some detail by Cooper’s 2006 history of Kingston. Also of use is the 1853 Kingston Farm evaluation. (I was kindly allowed to make a copy of this and other documents privately held by the Hodson family.)
    2. 'Captain Swing' 1830 agricultural labourers' riots, with references to the consequences of their rick burning and the writings of its supporters, Richard Carlile and William Cobbett.

      ‘Captain Swing’ 1830 agricultural labourers’ riots, with references to the consequences of their rick burning and the writings of its supporters, Richard Carlile and William Cobbett. Image from the British Museum.

      Objective: The socio-economic implications of the enclosure for all in the parish.
      • Last two chapters of Cooper (2006) detail consequences of ‘agricultural revolution’, mid-18th c. – mid 19th c., including Kingston residents effected by consequences. Cross-reference with info from Ancestry.co.uk and other family history sources, as well as books on rural life and enclosure. To be included are studies on John Clare, etc. Also research agricultural labour revolts, such as the Swing Riots.
  3. Aim: Life and Death in Kingston and Newmarket Farm, 1831–1921.
    1. James Nye 'A Small Account of my Travels Through the Wilderness'. Queens Park Books.

      James Nye ‘A Small Account of my Travels Through the Wilderness’. Queens Park Books.

      Objective: A study of post-enclosure Kingston, using census returns, birth and death records, including causes of death and other records.
      • To enable an understanding of what life was like for the village as a whole and how it may have changed with time. Collate available information on the population of Kingston. Statistically analyse this data to examine; life expectancy through time, causes of death, occupations, migration within and outside the village, etc. Consider possible causes, based on wider sources of information, i.e. the autobiography of James Nye 1981.
    2. Objective: To enable a deeper understanding of these findings; to read other Sussex diaries, memoirs, etc., compared and contrasted with general rural studies and their wider historical context.
    3. Some women and children of Telscombe village taken in 1904 by Ambrose Gorham. From ESRO, AMS6595.

      Some women and children of Telscombe village taken in 1904 by Ambrose Gorham. From ESRO, AMS6595.

      Objective: A detailed consideration of the life of an agricultural labouring family in an isolated outfarm.
      • Worst case of disease, malnutrition and poverty in Kingston given by Cooper was the Rich family of Newmarket Farm. They were detailed in 1861 census record. Also include info on other outfarms, such as Cambridgeshire Farm, Falmer.
    4. Objective: To research and interpret the details of the murder story of David Baldy by Martin Brown in 1868, with particular attention to the significance of how the story was told and the public’s reaction to it.
      • To include a study of Victorian attitudes to crime and punishment.
      • Verbal permission has been obtained by the Copper family to use a melodramatic version of the tale, as told to a young Bob Copper by his father.
    5. Ragged School for girls.  Illustrated London News, 1846.

      Ragged School for girls. Illustrated London News, 1846.

      Objective: To compare and contrast slum dwellers of Brighton and agricultural labourers of Kingston.
      • Requires a study of slum life in Brighton, including education of children. For example, the murderer was caught because he could read and write. 1851 census for the slum street where he grew up recorded the majority of children as scholars, but none were so recorded in Kingston at that time.
    6. Objective: To research ‘Baldy’s memorial stone’ (now lost).
      • Was Baldy’s stone erected ~30 years after Baldy’s murder by John Hodson, as symbolic gesture to honour the Hodson /Rogers dynasty’s debt of gratitude to their labourers in general? There is photographic and documentary evidence for the stone’s inscription and location, as well as for the actual murder location from police reports at Brown’s trial. It claimed to mark the spot of his murder, but was in fact placed a mile away on the Shepherds’ Path on the Kingston Down, directly overlooking The Street (Kingston’s High Street). John Hodson was supposed to have created the path on his return to Kingston in the 1890s.
    7. Early 20th c. (?) decorative egg cup from the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig.

      Early 20th c. (?) decorative egg cup from the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig.

      Objective: To consider what the material finds from my 2013 excavation of the cottage have to say about the life and times of those living there.
      • The ceramic plates bearing mid-late Victorian fashionable aesthetic movement designs and other mid-19th–early 20th c. highly decorative household ceramics, glassware, jewellery and dolls, all strongly indicate that even the poorest of households spent a significant part of their money on goods purely for their aesthetic qualities. I will base my studies (in part) on Casella and Croucher (2010), which was the first English Heritage funded excavation to explicitly focus on domestic and residential consequences of the Industrial Revolution. ‘It reflected a new interest in the collection and conservation of 19th–20th c. archaeological assemblages, of men, women and children of rural working-class households who struggled to maintain and improve their conditions of everyday life’.
  4. Aim: ‘Tourist’ activities on the Kingston / Balsdean Downs; 1830–1942.
      • Those at Newmarket Farm would have seen many such activities which took place on the downs where they lived. Rumour had it (in 1930s) that the farm had previously been something like a coaching inn, i.e. somewhere where people who arrived in posh-carriages and were provided with food and refreshments. This was in all likelihood at least partly true. Newmarket Hill was a well known meeting place for hunting and other activities during this time and Newmarket Farm was the only building in its vicinity. It was probably only the farmyard, stables and barn which were utilized, for an 1860s map showing the meeting places for the Brookside Harriers labelled it as Rogers Barn.
    1. Wyld’s Plan of the Volunteer Review at Brighton, 1871. CC BY-SA, Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.

      Objective: Victorian Sham battles and reviews on or near the Kingston and Balsdean Downs.
      • Military displays (Easter Reviews) continued after the Napoleonic Wars into the Victorian period, getting progressively larger. The Illustrated London News featured them in great detail, though potentially expensive copyright permissions may be needed for me to use these.
    2. 'Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers - with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills'; a rider hurtling down a hillside to right with terror, his hat thrown from his head and crop flying behind him; other riders, tents and a windmill on plain below at right.

      ‘Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers – with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills…’ John Leech, 1865. Image from British Museum.

      Objective: Hunting activities on the downs, especially the nationally famous Brookside Harriers.
      • To research the later history and demise of Brookside (hare) Harriers and the rise of the Southdown (fox) hunt. To include the involvement of Rottingdean’s Beard family and, from the 1920s, A.W.J. Dalgety, who was Master of the Southdown Hunt. He formed a partnership with Guy Woodman to farm Balsdean on or shortly after 1925. An interesting character, perhaps to be researched here, for he devoted his life to hunting, though perhaps the detail of his life should be placed later. A slim volume of his poetry reflected his views on horses and WW1.
    3. The little Scud at the International Glider Meeting at Balsdean. Flight, October 30, 1931.

      Objective: 1931, Southdown Soarers and Southern Gliders clubs.
      • In 1931, Southern Gliders’ Social Club were allowed to fly on the Balsdean and Kingston Downs, storing their gliders in Newmarket Farm’s barn. Woodman had recently become their vice-president. He was in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. Southern Soarers Club organised the 2nd British Gliding Competition, 1931, which took place in Balsdean in October and involved international competitors. My father remembered (aged 5) ‘helping’ launch one of the gliders. Woodman was in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1.
    4. A Bloomsbury picnic on the Downs. © Tate.

      Objective: Writers and artists in Kingston and the surrounding area.
      • Literary and artistic descriptions of the South Downs, in particular in the vicinity of Kingston and Balsdean, to provide an insight into the lives and landscape of the area. Also of note are any recorded reactions of the locals to these visitors.
    5. Kinder Scout mass tresspass, 1932. CC BY-NC-SA, ROAR Magazine.

      Objective: Ramblers and nature lovers.
      • Visitors to the downs included foreign students from Brighton. The Phipps family (1934–1938) sold them cups of tea from 1934–38! These tourists took photographs which it would be wonderful to find…
      • Ramblers’ encounters with the army and police were recorded in local newspapers during WW2, when such individuals were arrested after illegally entering the military training area.
  5. Aim: Historical developments; WW1 – WW2.
    1. An American cartoonist in 1888 depicted John Bull (England) as the octopus of imperialism, grabbing land on every continent. CC0, Wikimedia.

      Objective: Research and understand the costs and benefits of the British Empire, technological change, a growing population particularly of Brighton and their effects on the downland landscape.
      • Our Empire provided an increasing majority of our food and other agricultural goods. By the Edwardian period our industrial towns had become the government’s main source of wealth and our agricultural countryside was increasingly seen as merely a playground for the idle rich. In particular, Edwardian Brighton had one of the highest population densities in Britain.
    2. Objective: Research Kingston estate’s sale in 1911 and Newmarket Farm in 1921.
      • The Gorings of Wiston sold the Kingston Estate to Howell. Howell then sold a large part of its arable land for housing and smallholdings, including fruit and mushroom farms. The far eastern portion of the estate, including Newmarket Farm, was later sold to Selbach who was also interested in property development.
      • Include ruined chimney from an (alleged) attempted to extract silver from flint.
    3. Objective: To study and record something of the two plotland developments, 1913 and 1919, which later became the village of Woodingdean.
      • Woodingdean was (and still is) home to several generations of both sides of my family since the 1920’s. I wish to record its social, economic and material legacy to the end of WW2. This includes the Phipps and Latham family reminiscences, for whom Woodingdean played an important role. The local histories by Peter Mercer will be of particular use here. My family (both sides) accumulated a large number of Woodingdean photographs; these require digitising, tagging and possibly adding to a GIS (Geographical Information System) database. Also of interest is the Warren Farm Dairy Farm’s dairy, which became an independent business. Its (broken) milk bottles were found in NMF13. Its unpasteurised nature was featured. Also of interest was the lack of mains services in Woodingdean; my father’s family’s water was collected from the roof in an underground concrete lined tank (like Newmarket Farm). Lighting and cooking by paraffin.
    4. Oscar Selbach's Brighton Heights Estate; 'The Healthiest Place in Britain'.

      Oscar Selbach’s Brighton Heights Estate; ‘The Healthiest Place in Britain’. CC BY-NC-SA, Holland, Mercer, Cuthbertson Collection.

      Objective: WW1 costs and benefits, as motivation for Oscar Selbach’s farming activities and development plans, including Newmarket Farm in 1921.
      • To research and record the material remains of early 20th c. fencing, new farm roads, water pumps, etc. Selbach’s motivation was entrepreneurial. Post-WW1 guaranteed farm prices, (cheap? ex-WW1?) barbed wire and nitrate fertiliser, cheap German POW labour and a demand for new housing. Balsdean and Kingston Downs had been popular because of a lack of fences. Barbed wire and ploughing became an issue, as witnessed by (an alleged) High Court case against Selbach for ploughing Lord Carson’s racing gallops. Fences first appear in significant numbers on O.S. maps after WW1.
    5. Objective: Research Brighton Corporation’s compulsory purchase of downland for amenity purposes; rambling and interwar tourism.
      • To read and review publications on the protection of the South Downs. To be reviewed in relation to Brighton Corporation’s development plans. To be included is a poem on the possibility of motor cars racing up Newmarket Hill (in Sussex County Magazine, early 1930s).
    6. Phipps family children; Bob (Desmond), Lucy, Sylvia

      Phipps family children; Bob (Desmond), Lucy, Sylvia. CC BY-NC-SA, Phipps family collection.

      Objective: To consider the administrative challenges for those living on both the socio-economic and geographical margins of society.
      • Newmarket Farm tenants from 1921 worked for Balsdean Farm. They belonged politically to Kingston, yet they worked, shopped, obtained medical help and went to school in Rottingdean, Woodingdean, Falmer and Brighton, which were in different administrative areas. Agricultural labourers were the poorest of the working poor. In 1938 they earned less than on the dole. They would therefore have already been marginalised by society… How did they cope?
    7. Balsdean Pumping Station.

      Balsdean Pumping Station. CC BY-SA 2.0, David Spicer.

      Objective: To research the consequences of Brighton Corporation’s compulsory purchase of downland to protect Brighton’s largest water catchment area and the building of Balsdean pumping station in the 1930s.
      • Was the historic Balsdean Farm, (including its subsidiary Norton and Newmarket Farms) offered to the military for training during WW2, with permission given for their demolition, in order to rebuild the Balsdean Farm after the war in its present location, just outside of the Balsdean water catchment area, thus protecting its water catchment area?
    8. Tanks move into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Photo: Holland Mercer Collection.

      Tanks move into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, Holland, Mercer, Cuthbertson Collection.

      Objective: Research WW2, its effects on local agriculture, military activities in the area and, in particular, the compulsory purchase for training purposes of the Block 3 South Downs Training Area.
      • Fieldwork might include a metal detector survey for anti-tank ordnance in the bank behind the site of a figure of 8 railway target, of which nothing visible remains today. A slit trench has been identified overlooking the target. Both are in an SSSI so permissions from Natural England would be required. A barbed wire enclosed artillery firing position identified from aerial photographs could also be investigated, but is on private land. Evidence for a possible long range Livens Projector used in a mustard gas test firing exercise is particularly interesting.
  6. Wart-biter cricket.

    Wart-biter cricket. CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia.

    Aim: Of sheep and bullocks; to provide a natural historical postscript.
    1. Objective: To interpret Castle Hill National Nature Reserve’s wildlife in relation to former management practices, as well as its unique geography.
      • The reserve as a beautiful time-capsule of the past — enclosed in barbed wire. Detail wildlife and how it reflects former downland management practices. e.g.; Nottingham catchfly, early spider orchid, wart-biter cricket.
      • Castle Hill NNR is noted for its early spider orchids and wart biter crickets; the former require sheep grazing but the latter, found in Newmarket Bottom, require longer grass such as from grazing cattle. Baldy on the day of his murder had been tending bullocks (oxen?) in Newmarket Bottom.
      • Newmarket Hill’s top is over 500 feet high, the highest ground immediately north-east of the coastal plain west of Brighton. Therefore it should receive relatively high rainfall. Much of its run-off should find its way into Newmarket Bottom. It has more fertility than the head of Falmer Bottom, the next valley to the east. However, the south facing slopes within the reserve are particularly steep, with only a very shallow covering of soil. Thus the lusher pastures of Newmarket Bottom and the shorter turf of the steep slopes should, and do, provide two differing grazing regimes, for cattle and sheep respectively. Further research may substantiate my observations.
  7. Aim: To disseminate the project findings to a wide range of audiences.
    1. Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project - Family Archaeology Day - Brighton Museum, 31st January 2015.

      Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project – Family Archaeology Day – Brighton Museum, 31st January 2015.

      Objective: To date I have shared my findings via the Internet, talks, local newsletters, guided walks and stalls at local public events. Each of the project objectives’ outcomes (singularly or combined) are to be similarly disseminated, as detailed in my report.
    2. Objective: To present my findings to an academic audience.
      • This requires a higher standard of rigour than is normal for an amateur local history, but my academic training should certainly help. Publications may include Sussex Archaeological Collections and Post-Medieval Archaeology. Other, more informal journals and newsletters are certainly possible.
    3. Objective: To present the project as a whole to as wide an audience as possible.
      • On completion of the above objectives a book is to be written. It would be useful to confirm the nature of the book’s publication as early as possible. A non-commercial print-to-order book (such as Lulu.com) may be eligible for the use of discounted or royalty free (Creative Commons or related) images. A commercial publication would be expensive. Such books rarely make money, therefore a non-commercial (cost-price) publication, with a suitable Creative Commons license, may be my ideal choice. However, if a commercial publisher wishes to pay image royalty costs, a compromise might be a commercial book with limited images complemented by a non-commercial website with images which were unable to be published in the book.

The above aims and objectives should be considered as being for guidance purposes only. They are not prescriptive. More details are available in my project proposal document. They are for the guidance of my thinking and are not necessarily structured in terms of either the order in which they will be conducted, or the order in which their outcomes will be published. Each objective should generate one or more research products. Of note is that some of these products, such as digitized historical maps, will be of use for more than one of the objectives. Also of note is that I have already conducted quite a lot of research, though as yet most of it has not yet been formally recorded.

Next Actions

The main purpose of this exercise was the registration of this historical archaeology project with the OASIS archaeological projects database. I suspect they have an online form requiring information about the project; its name, scope, aims and objectives (might want to summarise these) and other such questions of interest to those who may be interested in finding out more, or even offering help and advice.

Next on my list is the recording, writing, archiving and publishing of my 2013 Newmarket Farm dig. This is planned to be started this winter. I still have a lot of post-excavation work to do, and with no previous experience, it is likely to take me sometime. Fortunately I should be able to help Luke Barber with some of his post-excavation finds processing of the Bishopstone Tidemills dig this winter. Since he is the Sussex Archaeology Society’s research officer, he should know exactly what he is doing. An excellent learning opportunity for me.

Of Sheep and Fish: A Historical Archaeology Project Proposal. Click this link to download or view the pdf.

View SE over site from half-way up aerial; 23rd August 2013.

View SE over site from half-way up aerial; 23rd August 2013. Click to enlarge.

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014

Newmarket Farm Cottage Excavation - Right click for enlarged image; January 2014.

Newmarket Farm Cottage Excavation – Right click for enlarged image; January 2014.

Looking SE at Newmarket Farm dig site at sunset; 8th December 2013.

Looking SE at Newmarket Farm dig site at sunset; 8th December 2013.

Guided Walk of Balsdean, Castle Hill NNR, and Newmarket Farm

Newmarket Farm photo possibly taken in about 1924. From a collection of photos by Capt. Bertie Hubbard Maclaren. Brighton & Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums, ref. HA930078.

Newmarket Farm photo possibly taken in about 1924. From a collection of photos by Capt. Bertie Hubbard Maclaren. Brighton & Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums, ref. HA930078.

As part of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Health Walk programme I am leading a 4.5 mile history tour of the Balsdean and Kingston Downs. It starts at 10am on Monday 15th July, from the Falmer Road car park, immediately north of the village of Woodingdean, near Brighton, Sussex. Hopefully we will finish before 1pm.

I will be showing old photographs of the Balsdean, Norton and Newmarket Farms, and tell something of the history of the area, including;

  • The Georgian Balsdean Manor House
  • The Norman chapel
  • The ‘lunatic asylum’ of Norton Farm
  • The WW2 military training activities which destroyed all standing buildings in the area, including the sites of:
    • A figure of eight railway anti-tank target
    • A mustard gas training exercise
  • Then, after passing through the iconic Castle Hill National Nature Reserve, we visit the murder site of David Baldy, to hear the ‘death’ bed confession of his 22 year murderer, Martin Brown
  • The dew pond on Kingston’s Newmarket Hill, essential in the past for watering its huge flock of Southdown sheep
  • The outfarm, a farm labourer’s cottage, farmyard, stable, cattle hovel and barn, built in about 1830, and birthplace of my mother in 1942
  • Prehistoric activities on the downs, responsible for its deforestation
  • Newmarket Hill’s place-name origin – new mearc geat hill – new boundary gap / gate hill – and of the Kingston, Balsdean/Rottingdean, Falmer boundaries which meet there

As a bonus (I don’t have time to tell the story on the walk) I have included a leaflet I plan hand out on the walk, which I have just written. It is called of Of Sheep, Fish and Coal. Please feel free to download and share.

Newmarket Farm’s Slate Roof

Newmarket Farm photo possibly taken in about 1924. From a collection of photos by Capt. Bertie Hubbard Maclaren. Brighton & Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums, ref. HA930078.

Newmarket Farm photo possibly taken in about 1924. From a collection of photos by Capt. Bertie Hubbard Maclaren. Brighton & Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums, ref. HA930078.

The Newmarket Farm was probably built in about 1831 – which puts it right at the end of the Georgian period. The archaeological evidence, in keeping with personal memories and the above photograph, all indicate that for most of its life it was roofed with Welsh slate. But has it always been roofed with slate – as our archaeological evidence has indicated?

Personal communications with local archaeological experts have told me that Welsh slate arrived in Sussex with the coming of the railways, though they have also said that it is possible that some arrived earlier. Unfortunately those I have spoken to were unaware of any research on the matter. So – reluctantly – I have made a start via the Internet.


The Slate industry in Wales was my first port of call. And I was ecstatic with joy to discover that in 1831 – the most likely date for the building of Newmarket Farm – excise duty was removed on the inshore shipping of slate!! Thanks to Google Books I was able to confirm this from pages 46-47 of their scanned copy of The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland [1807-1868/69], Volume 71, His Majesty’s Statute and Law Printers, 1831. The biggest expansion in Welsh slate production was undoubtedly due to the railways in the 1840s, however the 1831 abolition of an excise duty of 20% resulted in an earlier boost to production. Not proof, but it is a start. The assumption would be that either the Kingston estate or some other Sussex merchant would have loaded a ship with grain for sale at a Welsh port, returning with roofing slates as ballast on their return journey.

Further searches for historic slate roofs led me to discover that Brighton’s Royal Albion Hotel, which was built in 1826, was also roofed in slate. However, insufficient information was provided in Historic England’s description to prove to me that the slate could not have been a later addition. Some further general information was provided by the Regency Society on slate roofing. They cited a number of secondary sources on the Internet from which they were able to  that conclude that Welsh slate “is a quintessentially Georgian building material“. One such webpage by Ron Martin on slate roof tiles in Brighton was particularly informative. The light weight and water-impervious nature of slate made it an ideal building material. The main challenge to its use was the cost of transport.

Searching for references to slate before 1840 on ‘The Keep’ website revealed, amongst other records, a letter from Lord Sheffield, Sheffield Place, Sussex, to “my Lord Lennox, third Duke of Richmand” on 20th Jan 1806, held by the East Sussex Record Office (SPK 1/61/3). “He encloses particulars of the mode of felling and barking timber, and the address of Lord Penrhyn’s agent, for slate…


The Penrhyn Slate Quarry, by Henry Hawkins, 1832. From the National Trust Images, Penrhyn Castle.

The Penrhyn Slate Quarry, by Henry Hawkins, 1832. From National Trust Images, Penrhyn Castle.

My main source to understanding the history of the Penrhyn quarry was the Slatesite website. Welsh slate mining was essentially just a cottage industry until the self educated William Williams of Llandygai (1738 – 1817) proposed to his master, Richard Pennant, 1st Baron Penrhyn (1737 – 21 January 1808) that the slate mines could be managed on a capitalist basis in the 1770s. Demand could be met at lower costs, by owning and managing the mines, the workers, the road, the horse-drawn railway, as well as the shipping from Port Penrhyn, which the estate also owned. Other mines and quarries also expanded to meet the demand for this luxury roofing material. So it was that the government saw it as a means of income, through the levying of a 20% tax on its coastal shipping in July 1794.

Six Degrees to Newmarket Farm!

There are supposed to be six or less degrees of separation between any two people on this planet. It certainly seems to be true for the slate on the roof of Newmarket Farm!

  1. Richard Pennant, who I have discovered to have been the owner of the Penrhyn Slate Quarry, founded his fortune through the slave trade, providing his lucrative West Indian sugar plantations with cheap labour. As an MP he was the first to speak against William Wilberforce in the famous debate in parliament on the abolition of the slave trade, in 12th May, 1789 (The Speeches of Mr. Wilberforce, Lord Penrhyn, Mr. Burke, Sir W. Young, Alderman Newnham … &c. &c. on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in the House of Commons, May the 12th, 1789. To which are Added, Mr. Wilberforce’s Twelve Propositions, John Stockdale, 1789, pp. 5-14).
  2. The father of Charles Jenkinson, 3rd Earl of Liverpool, also had strong views against Wilberforce.
  3. The 3rd Earl’s estate was at Buxted in Sussex. He moved the village to improve his view. One of the villagers moved was the father of Martin Brown.
  4. Martin Brown’s family later moved to the slums of Brighton.
  5. He became an habitual criminal, and whilst on the run from the police sought lodgings in the Newmarket Farm.
  6. The Newmarket Farm had a slate roof, possibly sourced from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry.

Not proof that the Newmarket Farm was built with a roof of slate. But an exciting story full of new directions for further research!

Post-Excavation Panic!

ADHD & Asperger's teeshirt; image courtesy of http://www.autismawarenessuk.com

ADHD & Asperger’s teeshirt; image courtesy of http://www.autismawarenessuk.com

I believe I have said it before. One of the main purposes of this blog is to get my thoughts straight. And if I ever need to get my thoughts clear it is now! I have a reasonable idea of what needs to be done to complete our 2013 Newmarket Farm Dig – it is just that there is so much still to do that I don’t know where to start. The tasks to complete are;

  • Draw maps
  • Draw plans
  • Collate notes
  • Collate photos
  • Process finds
  • Write & submit dig report
  • Collate & deposit the dig archive
  • Public presentation to celebrate!

Each task involves many steps. Fortunately, over the past two years, I have had advice and support from Lisa Fisher (Archaeology Services Lewes), Archaeology South-East, Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society, Brighton Museum, Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Society, Luke Barber (Sussex Archaeology Society), Sussex Military History Society, Chris Butler (Sussex School of Archaeology), and the Sussex Weald Young Archaeologists Club, amongst others, reviewing my contexts, sorting our finds into their different types, washing our pot and glass, preliminary finds identification, advice on report writing, etc. Unfortunately I have had so much advice and support, including reading material from a number of academic books and the Internet, it has left my head spinning!

MoRPHE – Summary of Stages and Products

So, back to the beginning, and my Newmarket Farm Excavation Project Design document. Based on published advice from the East Sussex County Archaeologist, I largely followed Historic England’s Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment. From this I produced a ‘Summary of Stages and Products’ in advance of starting the dig.

  1. Start up ✔
    1. Research products
      1. Aims & objectives ✔
      2. Research agendas ✔
      3. Strategies & policies ✔
      4. Business case ✔
      5. Project brief ✔
    2. Dissemination products
      1. Initial communication with stakeholders ✔
      2. Project Proposal document completed and circulated ✔
  2. Review Point R1: Objectives clear and relevant ✔
  3. Initiation
    1. Research products ✔
      1. Project Design document written ✔
      2. Aims & Objectives ✔
      3. Business Case ✔
      4. Stakeholders ✔
      5. Project Execution Stages and their Products ✔
      6. Risk Log ✔
      7. Project Team ✔
      8. Communication methods ✔
      9. Review Points ✔
      10. Site access agreed ✔
    2. Archive products
      1. Project Management Archive created
      2. Archive repository identified ✔
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Communication with specialists
      2. Communication with stakeholders
  4. Review Point R2: Project Design achievable? ✔
    1. Is it in line with current advice?
    2. Is the proposed methodology appropriate?
  5. Execution stage:
    1. Field Investigation – to be conducted as a series of stages;
      1. Site infrastructure, grid & survey
      2. E garden boundary wall
      3. S garden boundary wall & associated features
      4. W garden/farmyard wall to S of house site
      5. N garden boundary wall & associated features
      6. House site & associated features
      7. Demolition rubble mound to E of house site
    2. Research products
      1. Site infrastructure established
      2. Storage arrangement for archive agreed
      3. Staff briefings conducted
      4. Field research completed
      5. Interventions made
      6. Data captured
        1. Maps
        2. Plans
        3. Notes
        4. Photos
        5. Finds
      7. Potential of data assessed
      8. Checked conformance to standards
      9. Assessment of the potential of the results, or products to achieve the Aims and Objectives of the project
    3.  Archive products
      1. Site Archive established and updated
        1. Digital archive established
        2. Metadata for files captured
        3. Paper archive established
        4. Artefact archive processed for storage
    4. Dissemination products
      1. Signpost record
        1. Create & update OASIS entry
      2. Report drafted
      3. Dissemination plan drafted
      4. Outreach work completed
        1. Blog post
        2. News coverage – press release
      5. Highlight (progress) Report(s)
      6. Issue Log
      7. Review Risk Log and planning for unforeseen changes
  6. Review Point R3.1:
    1. (After each fieldwork stage:) Is an updated Project Design document required?
  7.  Execution stage: Update Project Design
    1. Research products
      1. Project Design reviewed
    2.  Archive products
      1. Updated Project Design Document
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Consulted with Stakeholders and specialists
  8. Review Point R3.2
    1. Is the site archive complete?
    2. Does assessment merit full analysis or should the project proceed to Dissemination stage?
    3. Is the Updated Project Design appropriate?
  9. Execution stage: Desk-based research
    1. Research products
      1. Existing information sources identified (✔)
    2.  Archive products
      1. Updated NMR & HER records
      2. Completed assessment report
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Signposting record
  10. Execution stage: Analysis
    1. Research products
      1. Analysis and understanding completed
        1. Archive accessed
        2. Analysis undertaken
        3. Report production
        4. Images produced/sourced
    2.  Archive products
      1. Research Archive created
      2. Report on analysis
      3. Updated HER entries
      4. Updated NMR entries
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Highlight Report circulated
      2. Signposting record (Oasis?) updated to show progress
  11. Review Point R3.3
    1. Analysis complete in line with project objectives?
    2. Has analysis delivered an enhanced understanding?
    3. Site Archive and Research Archive ready for deposition?
    4. Dissemination plan approved?
    5. Report text prepared in line with dissemination plan?
  12. Archive Deposition
    1. Research products
      1. Data archive deposited with archive holder
      2. Paper archive deposited
      3. Artefact & ecofact archive deposited with archive holder
    2.  Archive products
      1. Agreements with archive holder filed
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Signposting record updated to record location of archive
  13. Review Point R3.4
    1. Ok to close project?
    2. Can recommendations for future research be made?
  14. Closure
    1. Research products
      1. All Tasks & Products completed?
      2. Aims & Objectives met?
    2.  Archive products
      1. Lessons learned & recommendations for future evaluation, where applicable, documented in End-of-Project Report
      2. Project Archive contains products of Execution Stages & Project Documents
    3. Dissemination products
      1. All Stakeholders informed project is ending

This is quite a list! No wonder my head is spinning!!

But now I have copied it out, I am able to say that I like long lists – nicely, logically set out. If I work through each of these items – breaking them down into smaller steps when required – working towards the production of a project archive, the dig report should almost write itself. It is, simply speaking, just a polished, edited version of the dig archive, tailored for busy professional archaeologists. Likewise for the public presentation.

Baby steps 🙂

Progress Review

The front cover of a draft copy of my (and my mum's) book

The front cover of a draft copy of my (and my mum’s) book

The most popular question I am asked about my research is “am I writing a book” (and “when will it be published”)? An early draft of the book is already available to read on this website (though without images, for I have yet to request copyright approvals for them all). However a publication date is quite a while away.

After working on how to retell my recent WW2 Balsdean talk for this blog, I have a long awaited archaeological dig report to produce. The dig was three years ago and so is long overdue. Fortunately the delay has enabled me to obtain a much clearer idea of what may be involved, including how to best to record the large number of finds which occupy a large part of parent’s garage. Being new to archaeology I have no idea how long it will all take. All I can say at present is that I hope to have finished well before Christmas!

Once the report has been published there is the possibility of returning back to the Newmarket Farm site for further digging. We did an excellent job uncovering the site of the cottage and it’s front yard. It would be nice to formally confirm the locations of all the other structures on site. My aspiration is to construct a 3d digital model of the site. I hope to discover how to create an accurate model based on the only photograph discovered (as yet) and a ground plan, partly or wholly based on archaeological excavation.

I also wish to survey and record as much of the 19th century to WW2 archaeology as I can in the Kingston, Balsdean, Woodingdean area. To this end I have started teaching myself how record and share geographic and other information using the Open Source program Qgis. Learning to record archaeological features in the field using more traditional methods would also be extremely useful.

Meanwhile, there is my unfinished book. This has now (at least in my mind) become four books, for I feel that I have material enough (with more research) for four different audiences. The first to be written is an introductory overview to a subsequent trilogy covering different aspects of the Newmarket Farm’s history.

The first has already been drafted. It is an overview of the lives, places and events which have been associated with the remote South Downs labourers’ cottage and barns known as Newmarket Farm, from shortly before its construction in 1830 to shortly after its destruction in 1942. I hope to find a commercial publisher for it – though there may be issues associated with finding the money to pay for copyright permissions of images, etc. Fortunately these are issues I don’t have to worry about for a year or two.

The first (historically) of the subsequent trilogy is planned to detail the origins of the Newmarket Farm. It was constructed as an outfarm, as part of the many changes which would have been associated with the enclosure of Kingston Near Lewes in 1830. The book would aim to relate the particularities of the agricultural parish of Kingston to the wider issues associated with the agricultural ‘improvements’ of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its emphasis would be social, environmental and agricultural. A second and equally important part of its research would be an attempt to understand the social aspects (in its widest sense) of an agricultural labourer’s life in such a geographically isolated location. Whilst I am aware of many books written about the ‘agricultural revolution’, I have yet to find a book which explores the social consequences of living and working on a remote outfarm.

The next book (historically) is intended to be centred around the murder which occurred at the Newmarket Farm in 1868. The murderer, Martin Brown, was from the slums of Brighton. The murdered agricultural labouring tenant of Newmarket Farm, David Baldy, was born and bred in rural Falmer. This tragic event provides an insight into the life and lives of nineteenth century poverty, both rural and urban. Surprisingly, though their lives were very different, the quality of life of the Brighton slum children was not necessarily worse than those of their country cousins. Average life expectancy in rural Kingston Near Lewes in the mid-nineteenth century was just 25, more or less exactly the same as the worst industrial cities in Britain. Also, because it was a murder, the newspapers wrote lengthy columns about who was doing what, where, and when. This kind of information is not normally available for the rural poor. A wonderful (though tragic) opportunity to look into everyday lives in extraordinary circumstances. And the murder story and subsequent police chase makes for a ripping yarn! Who wouldn’t want to read such a book.

The final book in the trilogy (though not necessarily the last to be written) starts with the events leading to the sale of the Newmarket Farm to the new owner of the neighbouring Balsdean Farm, just after WW1. The socio-economic factors which led to the ‘Great War’ also played a hugely significant role in changes of land use and ownership from the late Edwardian period. These also continued on during the inter-war years and played a huge role in the arguments for and against the creation of a series of South Down military training areas, resulting in the destruction of the Newmarket Farm – birthplace of my mother. This volume is essentially a description of the life and events, in war and peace, on a block of the South Downs between Brighton and Lewes. It would therefore also include the huge military reviews or mock battles which took place across these iconic downs, starting from the reign of the Prince Regent and ending in Edwardian times.

So, four books centred around a remote farm labourers’ cottage situated just below the summit of the highest hill on the South Downs between Lewes and Brighton (an introductory overview, a late Georgian – early Victorian agricultural history, a Victorian murder combined with a ‘town mouse, country mouse’ social history, and a rural war and peace), archaeological excavations and related activities, these should keep me busy for a while! I also hope to give more talks and guided walks, and of course I intend to continue keeping the readers of this blog informed of my discoveries.

Custom Slideshow – Google Earth Animations

Tanks move into Balsdean. Photo: Holland Mercer Collection.

Tanks move into Balsdean. Photo: Holland Mercer Collection.

The WW2 Balsdean presentation I gave to the Sussex Military History Society last month was very warmly received. I plan to rework it into a suitable form to include in this blog, though it is likely to be a while before that happens. One reason is that I used several animated transitions comparing current views from Google Earth with old photos, as well as short videos of Google Earth fly-throughs to help my audience discover the location of the various places of interest given in the talk, as well as to better visualise the landscape as a whole. These were particularly tailored to the presentation media used and will probably need to be rerecorded so as to be more suitable for this website.

Open Source Tools

Meanwhile, I have been asked to share how I achieved the animated transitions that were used in my talk. Firstly I should say that I mostly use free, Open Source tools wherever possible. This is partly for ethical reasons, partly because they are free (as in speech, not lunch), and partly because they (almost always) enable me to get my stuff done. However, if necessary I do use closed source and non-free software, such as Google Earth, if there are no suitable alternatives.

The first and most important of my Open Source tools is the Ubuntu Linux operating system. I have used Linux for many years now and only very rarely have I needed to switch to Windows. Of the many varieties of Linux I chose Ubuntu because of its large user base and excellent online support.

For my presentation I used LibreOffice (a version of OpenOffice) Impress. It is almost completely compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint, has similar capabilities and can be run on Linux, Windows and Apple Mac computers. Other presentation apps are available!

For editing photos and other images I mainly use Gimp, an open source alternative to Photoshop which can also be run on Linux, Windows and Apple Mac computers. Other image editors are also available! I used to it to improve the images (contrast, brightness, colour, etc), reduce their resolution to that of my projector, and to crop them, as and when required. I also used it’s layer capabilities to line up my screenshots taken of GoogleEarth views, so to as closely as possible match the views shown in my old photographs of Balsdean, etc.

Unfortunately there is no alternative that I know of to Google Earth for detailed exploration of 3d satellite images. Its ability to import geo-referenced images was especially useful. To do this I used QGIS, an open source geographic information system, similar to ArcGIS in capabilities. It is also available to download on most computers. Other GIS programs are available!

To share my Google Earth fly-throughs, I needed to capture my desktop display as a video. The program I chose was recordMyDesktop. It has a pretty basic functionality, but was adequate for my purposes.  It only runs under Linux, though there are many alternatives that work on different platforms.

Unfortunately the file size of the videos produced by recordMyDesktop were quite large, so I used a graphical front-end to FFmpeg called WinFF. FFmpeg is very good at video conversion, but I find its command line use too overwhelming. WinFF gives a huge range of tweakable presets, which after some experimentation, did exactly what was needed. It is only available on Windows and Linux. A huge number of video conversion tools are also available, including many that run on Apple Macs.

File Size Reduction

One of my biggest challenges was the file size of the finished presentation. I have a relatively powerful laptop but it quickly started to struggle with the accumulation of large images and videos that made up my one hour, particularly image heavy, presentation.

Memory Allocation

This was dealt with on two levels. Firstly I explored the memory allocation of my presentation program. Based on research via a number of sites found on Google I increased its memory allocation to 200 MB. For LibreOffice Impress 5.1 this can be changed via:

Tools -> Options -> LibreOffice -> Memory
Graphics Cache
   Use for LibreOffice:      200 MB
   Memory per object:        20 MB
   Remove from memory after: 10 mins
Cache for Inserted Objects
   Number of objects:        100

I have no idea whether these were the best settings for my needs, but they worked for me, especially during the editing process. They gave the program an enormous performance boost, and improved its stability as well.

Projector Resolution – Scaling &/or Cropping of Slides

My computer projector has a relatively low resolution, just 800 x 600 px. However I consider it is perfectly adequate for everyone except perhaps the front row of the audience. Therefore the relative proportions of the presentation’s slides were set in Impress to be the same as that of the projector, i.e. 4:3:

Slide -> Page/Slide Properties -> Page
Paper Format
   Format:      Screen 4:3
   Width:       [default setting]
   Height:      [default setting]
   Orientation: Landscape

However, many of my images were of a much higher file size than 800 x 600 px, and many were of differing aspect ratios. Cropping such images to the relative proportions of the projected slides not only reduced their file size, but also made it much easier to accurately orientate my imported images to completely fill the slide (which is how I like it – though only if appropriate). To do this in Gimp I used the crop tool. Selecting this brings up a Tool Options menu:

   Fixed:   Aspect ratio

Scaling the image to the screen size (or that of its maximum height or width) enabled a significant reduction in the file size of the presentation. In Gimp this was done via:

Image -> Scale Image
Image Size
   Width:   800 px
   Height:  600 px

Video Compressing & Resizing

I also created a number of videos of Google Earth fly-throughs. These needed both reducing in size and improvements in compression – but without serious loss in quality. The fly-throughs were captured by recordMyDesktop. The good news is that it enables a box to be drawn around the area required to be captured. The bad news is that I could only do this very approximately using a tiny preview screen, and the relative proportions of the selected area could only be guestimated by eye. Fortunately I only wanted adequate, not perfect results. More good news is that it records high quality *.ogv formatted video (open source!). The bad news is that the file sizes were very big. Fortunately I was rescued by WinFF. To convert and resize the captured fly-throughs I clicked on the green Add plus sign to find and select the relevant video. After experimenting with its various settings I found the best compromise between compression, resolution and file size to be obtained via:

Output Details
   Convert to:    MPEG-4
   Preset:        MP4 Fullscreen
   Output Folder: Use Source Folder

Then, making sure that Options had been selected, I opened the FFmpeg tab to reveal the command line magic which does all the hard work. Looking for the part which has something like:


I changed this (carefully) to:


Then clicked on the Convert button to let it work its magic. Comparing the results with the original (almost always) gave adequate results for a huge reduction in file size of over ninety percent.

Then and Now Images using Google Earth

Tanks move into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Photo: Holland Mercer Collection.

Similar view to that of photo of tanks moving into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Screenshot from Google Earth.

Till now I have only dealt with the important but boring, bread & butter of my presentation’s construction. Now for one of the exciting contents of my slideshow sandwiches; the before and after transitions.

Whilst superficially a simple transition, this proved fairly challenging – till I learnt a way of getting an adequate result. Firstly, my laptop has an aspect ratio of more than 4:3. Therefore I adjusted the width of Google Earth’s left-hand side panel till the central 3d-map view had the same approximate aspect ratio as that of my projector, namely 4:3.

Next, as can be seen in the Google Earth image shown here, it has a much wider angle of view than the original photograph. Therefore lining up the two proved to be somewhat challenging. The background hills in Google Earth appear much smaller and further away. I found that if I lined up the skyline and the main features of interest, the position of the camera was often astray. Fortunately I was only striving for adequacy. It may be possible to do more with Google Earth Pro, but sadly it does not run under Linux.

Once I had lined up the view in Google Earth, I needed to save it (for the fly-through I created later). This I did by adding a Placemark (a yellow pin), and giving it a suitable name and description. Once saved it will appear in the left-hand panel under Places. For my talk I had several of these placemarks, so created folders to help organise them all.

However, this view was (initially) only viewable in Google Earth, and had a great yellow pin right in the middle of it! Fortunately, in the left-hand pane under My Places, a tick box associated with this view (placemark) could be unticked to hide it. Alternatively, right-clicking on the placemark and selecting properties enabled the pin to be dragged to a more suitable location. Then a screenshot was taken, and the image cropped to the screen aspect ratio, as explained in the previous section.

My before and after (then and now) images were now ready for the slideshow. A simple slide transition was next needed to move between them. I found that a transition between slides, in at least my version of LibreOffice Impress, was far from smooth whereas a custom animation within a slide was beautifully smooth. To do this I needed to insert the first image to be used into the slide, then the second image was inserted in front of it. With the second image selected, I selected:

Custom Animation
Effect Fade In
   Start: On Click
   Speed: Very slow

This worked for me very nicely. So next, the really exciting stuff…

Google Earth Fly-Throughs

Looking N at location of former Balsdean Hamlet. Screenshot taken from Google Earth.

Balsdean Hamlet. (Photo: Part of the Holland, Mercer collection).

The following step was to prepare a destination for the first fly-through. In this case it was to a similar view, captured from Google Earth, of my next old photograph, that of the pre-WW2 Balsdean hamlet taken about 60 metres west of the previous photo. The reason for the fly through was to help the audience orientate themselves in the landscape captured by these two old photos.

To do this I created a new placemark in Google Earth to save this new viewpoint following the method given above. Selecting (double clicking) the first placemark I had previously created (making sure I had unticked its box to remove its named yellow flag) I then double clicked on my second placemark to enable my first fly-through.

Once satisfied with my helicopter ride from viewpoint to viewpoint I opened up recordMyDesktop to capture the fly-through on video (following these instructions). The resized and reformatted video (via WinFF, as explained above) was then inserted into a new slide. Since the first frame of this video was the same as the last image of the previous slide animation, the transition to the video in the new slide was hardly noticeable. Creating a following slide containing a slow fade from this Google Earth view to that of its equivalent photo, I had successfully completed my first fly-through transition in both time and space. I was happy! And apparently my audience were too.

They also liked my next fly-through which was to pull back and upwards to a Google Earth view looking directly down on this area of downland as a whole, encompassing Lewes (where my talk was held) to Balsdean’s north-east, to Brighton & Hove at its south-west.

Google Earth view of Ordnance Survey grid square TQ 30, showing Lewes (top right), Brighton & Hove (bottom left) and Balsdean (right of centre)

Google Earth view of Ordnance Survey grid square TQ 30, showing Lewes (top right), Brighton & Hove (bottom left) and Balsdean (right of centre)

Overlaying Georeferenced Maps & Images on Google Earth Using Qgis

Overlaid flat maps and aerial photographs onto the 3-dimensional contours of Google Earth was another important part of my presentation. However, how I managed to do this I will save for separate blog entry. Partly because I feel this blog post is long enough, but mainly because I have only just started learning Qgis and the last time I tried this I failed to get it to work!

Comments Welcome

You may have gathered by now that I am not a computer multimedia expert. There are definitely other ways of achieving what I did, and some of them may be better and/or easier. If anyone has some helpful suggestions on alternate ways of achieving similar results, or would like more help on this subject, I would very much welcome your feedback.