Leonard Morris’s Live Bullet handed in to police

Last year, on a site visit, I found what I thought might have been a WWII live bullet. But when it was pointed out to me that it may be both dangerous and even illegal to possess I decided it was time to hand it in to the police.

Before doing so I recorded it the best I could with just a simple ruler and a camera – and noticed what might be some writing on its green copper and rusty iron coloured corroded base. Being without specialist solvents, I chose to use some household methylated spirits to clean its base.

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904.

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904.

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904.

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904

Rosette crimped blank .303 cartidge, made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904.

Case type (Rimmed, bottleneck)

                    Find      .303
Bullet diameter     ~8mm      7.9mm
Neck diameter       ~9mm      8.6mm
Shoulder diameter   ~10.5mm   10.2mm
Base diameter       ~11mm     11.7mm
Rim diameter        ~13mm     13.7mm
Rim thickness       ~1.5mm    1.6mm
Case length         ~54mm     56.4mm

My approximate measurements indicate this is a .303 cartidge. The HeadstampR ^ L C II – shows it was made by The Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1893-1904, and was a Mark 2 cartridge with cordite as the propellant. The rosette crimped nose means it was a blank.

My research was entirely from the websites of passionate experts, the best of which I give below:

So how might a blank rifle cartridge marking the very end of Queen Victoria’s Reign and the start of the Edwardian Period get to be associated with a farm labourer’s cottage and farmyard? I need to do a little research but I recall seeing photographs of army camps in both Kingston and Falmer of around this time. My idea is that it was probably used in army training exercises on the Downs, children may have taken it, and hidden it, until it was found by me a hundred years later. The Davey family in the 1901 Census had no children, but by 1911 the 12 year old schoolboy Leonard Morris, nephew of Frederick and Fanny Moon, was staying in Newmarket Farm. He is definitely my favourite as the person who secretly possessed this dangerous treasure.

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Snow cancelled clearance

Retreat from Newmarket Hill

Retreat from Newmarket Hill.

Just catching up on a post I meant to write a while back – the day after I surveyed the site in the snow.

Whilst the site itself was only covered in a shallow few inches of snow, the snow on the Juggs Road (Drove Avenue) just on the northern side of the ridge leading towards the top of Newmarket Hill had drifted considerably. Also, working on-site in slippery conditions whilst using sharp slashing tools is not sensible from a Health & Safety point of view so, after a quick look around and history lesson, we all went home!

Upcoming Events

Here I am making public the dates of my forthcoming volunteer dig days! The next three days are:

No upcoming events

We work on site every Friday and Sunday, 10am-4pm, from April to December 2013. Volunteers and other visitors are most welcome. We meet at the Falmer Road Car Park, Woodingdean (just N of the junction with Bexhill Rd) but please contact me beforehand in case we have to cancel for any reason.

David Cuthbertson: scienceinthegreen@yahoo.co.uk

Revised Excavation Plan

Detailing my archaeological plans, trench by trench, has enabled me to realise just how much work will be involved in order to better understand how the cottage may have functioned:

Newmarket Cottage Trench Plan 2; January 2013.

Newmarket Cottage Trench Plan 2; January 2013. Base plan from East Sussex Record Office.

  1. Find NE corner of garden boundary wall (1x1m trench on corner & extend if required to max 2x2m)
  2. Find S boundary wall junction; including corner of farmyard & garden & possible garden structure (1x1m trench on estimated junction & extend if required to 3x2m)
  3. Find junction of the internal wall between the house, garden and the N boundary wall, including parts of the farmyard on one side and the outside toilet on the other (1x1m trench on estimated junction & extend if required to 3x2m)
  4. Find SW corner of water tank on boundary wall (1x1m trench & extend if required to 2x2m)
  5. Find NW corner of water tank on boundary wall (1x1m trench & extend if required to 2x2m to join up with previous trench – this is an important feature to locate)
  6. Find SW corner of house on boundary wall (1x1m trench & extend if required to 2x2m)
  7. Find NW corner of house on boundary wall (1x1m trench & extend if required to 2x2m)
  8. Find a possible internal house wall line on W side of house; may have been an extension to S of house (1x1m trench increased to 1x3m if required – it would become an extension to the trench to find the SW corner of the house)
  9. Find internal house wall lines on W side of house; between main downstairs rooms (1x1m trench increased to 1x3m if required)
  10. Find internal house features on W side of house; possible pantry and stairway (1x1m trench increased to 1x3m if required – would become an extension to both the previous trench and the one to find the NW corner of the house)
  11. Find front door to house (2x1m trench enlarged to 3x1m if required – may become an extension to the trench to find the NW corner of the house)
  12. Find front garden gate – possibly opposite front door of house (2x1m trench enlarged to 3x1m if required – may also locate NE corner of outside toilet)
  13. Find NE corner of house, including ‘wood-shed’ (2x1m trench enlarged to 3x1m if required – this may become an extension to the trench to find the front door to house)
  14. Find SE corner of ‘wood-shed’ & projection of E side of house, possible back-door and internal house wall (2x2m trench enlarged to 3x3m if required)
  15. Find door in internal house wall (2x1m trench enlarged to 3x1m if required – may become extension of trench to find W end of this internal wall)
  16. Find fireplace (2x1m trench enlarged to 3x1m if required)

If I start at the beginning of March, and manage two trenches per month, then I would have finished an investigation of the internal features of the house by the end of October.

The location of the outside toilet has been disputed, between Lucy and Bob Phipps who lived there as children from 1934–1938. One recalled it as being next to the garden gate, the other as being next to the front door. Old Ordnance Survey maps and Mr Selbach’s plan show a suitable structure next to the front garden gate. Trenches 3, 7 and 11 may be able to confirm its location.

The other big target(s) is the “well(s?)” where both the Lathams’, and the Phipps’ got their water. However, this is shrouded in mystery! Neither family has been able to recall anything about a water-tank. Yet this is clearly marked on the plan found with Mr Selbach’s papers dating 1921. There is a patch of water-loving spearmint growing in a rubble filled depression in the vicinity of this tank. Trenches 4 and 5 are to attempt to determine the nature of this feature. It is always possible that Mr Selbach’s plan was for a proposed water tank that was never actually built, and the spearmint is growing on the site of a well. Bob Phipps recalled a shallow well, outside a window, to the south of the house. However, Anne Latham (who lived there from 1938-1942) recalled the well being outside the kitchen window to the north of the house. It may be that a geophysics survey, or even a dowser, may able to help with the location of an extra 1x1m trench or so.

Personally I am especially interested in locating the fireplace(s). There were two rooms downstairs described in 1868 as a kitchen and a wash-house. The wash-house would probably have been on the north side of the house, and the kitchen to the south, with a single dividing wall between the two. The nineteenth century cooking would have been on an open fire, and the wash-house would almost certainly have had a copper for heating water. This was common in agricultural cottages, especially in one so remote – there would be no neighbours to share laundry facilities with. I have not been able find anyone who clearly remembers the location of the fireplace(s). There were certainly none upstairs in the three bedrooms. Therefore a single central chimney would have been ideal; all three bedrooms would have benefited from any radiant heat; and the flue for the copper could have been on the opposite side of the kitchen/washroom wall from the kitchen fireplace and thus may have shared the same chimney. This is speculation though. Even if someone does have a memory of its location, we know from the outside toilet and the well/water-tank, that this information may not be reliable. Trench 16 has been planned to find its most probable location.

However, if the bulldozer driver was a little too active in this part of the house, there may be no evidence left of the fireplace. ‘Trench‘ 17 has therefore been planned for a systematic exploration (a partial excavation) of the large mound of demolition rubble to look for any chimney pots. This would be a very large target – about 28 metres long, several metres wide and a metre or two deep. It contains some very large pieces of masonry. The strategy would be to clear the demolition mound of its vegetation, and to strip it of some of the smaller debris, to search for identifiable chimney fragments. This could be a winter project.

Based on this first year of digging, a possible second year’s programme may be considered. This would involve excavating down through undisturbed archaeology. Possibilities include:

  • A possible rubbish dump in the SE corner of the garden
  • Waterlogged sediments, possibly 2 metres down, in the bottom of the ‘water-tank’
  • Construction details of the house (original and possible later phases)
  • A ‘railway’ that was recorded in a 1925 document (tracked wagons across farmyard?)
  • Farmyard surface(s)
  • Stable
  • Cattle ‘hovel’
  • Barn, including its 20thc extension, and its water-tank
  • Access tracks and paths (to Kingston in 19thc, to Balsdean, Woodingdean and Falmer in 20thc, also access to the field to the S of the farmyard)
  • Water-pipe from the well in Newmarket Bottom – which had a pumping engine – which possibly fed the water tank in the back garden, and/or the water-tank in the barn – this might be located by geophysics and not necessarily dug, except for those parts of it within the Newmarket Farm Dig site (Mr Selbach planned to have a large water tank up on the top of Newmarket Hill, which was to be filled from the well down in Newmarket Bottom, and which was to supply water to an housing estate on the SW side of Newmarket Hill – which he was prevented from building)
  • Possibility of a pipe to fill the water-tank with rainwater from the Newmarket Cottage roof, both before and/or after the Newmarket Bottom well pump which may have been in operation from just 1921-1925.

The last two excavation targets may possibly be revealed during this year’s programme of work to the south of the house. If something is found, it would be recorded, but it would not be followed down into undisturbed archaeology – at least not until a formal project plan review point was reached.

Rainwater guttering should certainly be looked for in the bulldozed mound of rubble.

My finds policy has yet to be planned – this will have to wait for another post – I need to get some expert advice on this.

Site Surveying in the Snow

Looking SE at Newmarket Cottage site in snow; January 21st 2013.

Looking SE at Newmarket Cottage site in snow; January 21st 2013.

I like snow – so am looking forward to helping clear the rest of the site of its brambles, etc tomorrow – in about 10cm or more of snow! Malcolm Emery, the Reserve Warden, agreed with me that we should go ahead as planned – unless it snows again in the night.

Looking N towards cottage site in brambles on right; January 21st 2013.

Looking N towards cottage site in brambles on right; January 21st 2013.

I was up on the hill today finishing off marking the major boundary wall junctions using Selbach’s 1921 plan and existing sections of wall lines as a guide. When I started this morning I had just one corner, a projected wall junction, and a half cleared site covered in snow. By the end of the day I had four corners and the two junctions of the internal garden/ farmyard wall. The northern boundary wall appeared to be a couple of meters further south than I expected – which meant it was well inside the modern fence-line. The south-west corner just kissed the modern fence-line. So the complete farm-site may well all be located within the Nature Reserve boundary.

Looking East along northern site boundary; January 21st 2013.

Looking East along northern site boundary; January 21st 2013.

And the best thing of all – after estimating the directions of each of the walls, and attempting to measure off the distances from corner to corner – the corners were only a metre out, which for me is pretty bloomin’ good!

Newmarket Farm Site Clearance

Thanks to Malcolm Emery and a couple of colleagues from Natural England, as well as a group from the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service, at least half the site was cleared yesterday (Weds 10th January 2013), and a second day has been planned to complete the job.

View WSW from demolition rubble mound E side of the house site looking SW across back garden towards S farmyard boundary between the trees left and centre; 10th January 2013.

View WSW from demolition rubble mound E side of the house site looking SW across back garden towards S farmyard boundary between the trees left and centre; 10th January 2013.

Looking slightly W of S from bulldozed mound of rubble to E of house site looking towards SE corner of the garden just under the Prunus scrub; 10th January 2013.

Looking slightly W of S from bulldozed mound of rubble to E of house site looking towards SE corner of the garden just under the Prunus scrub; 10th January 2013.

Looking S along bulldozed mound of demolition rubble partially hidden by brambles. The side of the house would have been on the right of the picture. The small elder bush to the right of the fire marks the junction of the wall dividing the garden to its left from the farmyard to its right, and the wall which bounded both to the south; 10th January 2013.

Looking S along bulldozed mound of demolition rubble partially hidden by brambles. The side of the house would have been on the right of the picture. The small elder bush to the right of the fire marks the junction of the wall dividing the garden to its left from the farmyard to its right, and the wall which bounded both to the south; 10th January 2013.

Clearing NW corner of the site, the site of a barn. Looking towards what has become an a major landmark – a television aerial marking the top of Newmarket Hill; 10th January 2013.

Clearing NW corner of the site, the site of a barn. Looking towards what has become an a major landmark – a television aerial marking the top of Newmarket Hill; 10th January 2013.

The chap on the right is raking the mowings, which were burnt. Removing the debris reduces the fertility of the soil, which reduces the vitality of the rank vegetation; 10th January 2013.

The chap on the right is raking the mowings, which were burnt. Removing the debris reduces the fertility of the soil, which reduces the vitality of the rank vegetation; 10th January 2013.

Looking W at Newmarket Farm site being cleared of brambles; 10th January 2013.

Looking W at Newmarket Farm site being cleared of brambles; 10th January 2013.

Photo taken from within the house site looking to the SW at elder bush marking site of S end of wall dividing house and garden. The chap on the right is Malcolm Emery, taking a welcome break from his desk; 10th January 2013.

Photo taken from within the house site looking to the SW at elder bush marking site of S end of wall dividing house and garden. The chap on the right is Malcolm Emery, taking a welcome break from his desk; 10th January 2013.

Taken from under the spreading hawthorn near the NE corner of the house site, looking slightly west of south, with the elder (centre back near the fire) marking the site of the back wall between garden and farmyard; 10th January 2013.

Taken from under the spreading hawthorn near the NE corner of the house site, looking slightly west of south, with the elder (centre back near the fire) marking the site of the back wall between garden and farmyard; 10th January 2013.

A view of the site looking to the NW with a piece of demolished masonry revealed from under the brambles; 10th January 2013.

A view of the site looking to the NW with a piece of demolished masonry revealed from under the brambles; 10th January 2013.

View from location of barn on NW side of site looking SE across the farmyard towards distant Prunus scrub marking SE corner of the garden; 10th January 2013

View from location of barn on NW side of site looking SE across the farmyard towards distant Prunus scrub marking SE corner of the garden; 10th January 2013

Volunteer clearing back some of the vegetation from the mound of demolition rubble, just inside the east boundary wall of the garden, looking E - upright piece of masonry is not in situ - 10th January 2013.

Volunteer clearing back some of the vegetation from the mound of demolition rubble, just inside the east boundary wall of the garden, looking E – upright piece of masonry is not in situ – 10th January 2013.

Looking N towards the NE corner of the site, just outside the garden wall, clearing the vegetation about 3m wide of the site boundary to allow for public access as well as room for spoil from any trenches; 10th January 2013

Looking N towards the NE corner of the site, just outside the garden wall, clearing the vegetation about 3m wide of the site boundary to allow for public access as well as room for spoil from any trenches; 10th January 2013

Looking S towards SE corner of the garden boundary wall just under the Prunus scrub; 10th January 2013

Looking S towards SE corner of the garden boundary wall just under the Prunus scrub; 10th January 2013

View beyond the site, towards Castle Hill to the NE, from on top of the mound of demolition rubble; 10th January 2013

View beyond the site, towards Castle Hill to the NE, from on top of the mound of demolition rubble; 10th January 2013

Looking approx WSW from SE corner of house towards distant hawthorn near SW corner of farmyard showing surface contours of site being revealed; 10th January 2013

Looking approx WSW from SE corner of house towards distant hawthorn near SW corner of farmyard showing surface contours of site being revealed; 10th January 2013

The farmyard, in the centre of the photo, was discovered to be on a terrace, with the farm buildings – stables and cow barn – at a higher level (to the right), and the garden at a lower level (to the left).

Photo taken approx SE corner of house site looking SW towards tree stump marking junction of dividing wall separating the garden on left, from the farmyard on right where it met the S property boundary; 10th January 2013.

Photo taken approx SE corner of house site looking SW towards tree stump marking junction of dividing wall separating the garden on left, from the farmyard on right where it met the S property boundary; 10th January 2013.

Looking NW at site clearance by burning of the cut vegetation; 10th January 2013

Looking NW at site clearance by burning of the cut vegetation; 10th January 2013

Looking NW at burning of wet vegetation; 10th January 2013

Looking NW at burning of wet vegetation; 10th January 2013

It would have been nice if the cleared vegetation had been removed from site and composted. Better for the environment. But it would have involved a lot of work, a lot more transport, and a lot less of the site would have been cleared.

Newmarket Farm

Just off to visit Malcolm Emery (E Sussex Reserves Manager, Natural England) at Castle Hill Nature Reserve – helping with the clearing of the Newmarket Farm site. I thought it might be useful for me to quickly post some more images of the site before heading off.
newmarket_farm_dougs_painting-640

This is an artist’s impression of Newmarket Farm. My great-uncle Dougie Holland used to visit his sister’s family, though when he painted it – about ten years ago – he admitted he didn’t really remember very much of what it used to look like.

Newmarket_Farm_location-CropSmall

This is an overlay map of the site I created based on old and recent Odnance Survey maps and a Google satelite image showing Newmarket Farm’s approximate location.