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.

Upcoming Events

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

Location When Summary Description
Shoreham Fort, Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 5HY, UK March 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Shoreham Fort Open Day Sunday 12th & 26th March – Shoreham Fort Open Day, Tours and Volunteers Shoreham Fort, Forthaven, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5HY Come and join the volunteers and see what they're up to or even help and make the work easier. More hands make light work as they say and it's really rewarding too 🙂 Tour of the…
Lewes Town Council, High St, Lewes BN7 2QS, United Kingdom March 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm WW1 Lewes Talk A talk by the Mayor of Lewes Dr Graham Mayhew: Lewes during the First World War An illustrated lecture by the Major, Councillor Dr Graham Mayhew JP, exploring those years when most of Lewes’s young men were away at war and the town played host to thousands of soldiers from across Great Britain and the…
Central United Reformed Church, 102 Blatchington Road, Hove BN3 3YF, Brighton, United Kingdom April 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm Local History Talk - Space and Status: how the Medieval house was used Details: https://www.meetup.com/Brighton-and-Hove-Archaeological-Society/events/236203374/

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.

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.

Some pictures of Castle Hill Nature Reserve

Just visited the picture website Geograph. It has lots of wonderful pictures people have taken of geographical locations all over the UK. I thought I would load all those that people have taken of Castle Hill Nature Reserve.

Taken in 2005…

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey.
Looking north towards Castle Hill. (10 September, 2005)

Newmarket Bottom by Simon Carey

Newmarket Bottom by Simon Carey.
Looking east towards Castle Hill. (10 September, 2005)

Taken in 2009…

Castle Hill by Paul Gillett

Castle Hill by Paul Gillett.
(23 June, 2009)

Castle Hill looking SW by Paul Gillett

Castle Hill looking SW by Paul Gillett.
Castle Hill is located 1 mile from Woodingdean, north east of Brighton. It comprises a series of valley-side slopes and is a good example of ancient, traditionally managed chalk downland. (23 June, 2009)

Taken in 2010…

Old well - Falmer Bottom by Robin Webster

Old well – Falmer Bottom by Robin Webster.
All very knocked about, but the part on the right looks like a wellhead, the central part like a pump, and the other part like a winch. All very perplexing. Made by F.E. Myers & Bro., Ashlan…. [?] U.S.A. The pump-like part has also cast on it “Self-oiling bulldozer”. A little further research found that the two brothers Francis and Philip set up the company in 1870 in Ashland, Ohio, and the company is still there, producing pumps and trading as Myers, although now part of the Pentair group. (27 February, 2010)

Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster

Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster.
The public bridleway through the reserve curves round the slope to the left, although the rather hypothetical legal line is somewhat to the right at first. (27 February, 2010)

Castle Hill NNR - scrub clearance by Robin Webster

Castle Hill NNR – scrub clearance by Robin Webster.
One of two bonfire sites seen on this shoulder of the hill. (27 February, 2010)

Falmer Bottom by Robin Webster

Falmer Bottom by Robin Webster.
A good view to illustrate the vagaries of the selection of CROW public access land. The criterion should be down: unimproved grassland. The foreground fields up to the fence with the single tree are public – but certainly rather improved. The near shoulder on the right is not CROW-public but is unimproved (although possibly partly ploughed in the past). The far shoulder on the right is correctly public and unimproved. Both shoulders are in the Castle Hill NNR. The slopes on the left are correctly selected as public access unimproved downland. However, the non-CROW part of the NNR is now mapped as access land under some other non-CROW arrangement. (27 February, 2010)

Vegetation investigations, Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster

Vegetation investigations, Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster.
Within the enclosure are many 1 m square areas marked out with green string. Castle Hill itself is the hill straight ahead – this part of the reserve is on the slopes of Newmarket Hill. (27 February, 2010)

Welcome to Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster

Welcome to Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Robin Webster.
The Natural England website still says “Access to the reserve is limited to public rights of way”. This is at variance both with this sign and with OS maps which show the reserve as public access land. In any case, the lower bridleway gate, just to the left of this sign, is away from the legal line which is well to the right and blocked by the fence. (27 February, 2010)

The information on the Natural England website is very out of date and, as far as I know, there are plans to update it sometime soon.

Industrial artefacts in Falmer Bottom (1) by Dave Spicer

Industrial artefacts in Falmer Bottom (1) by Dave Spicer.
Robin Webster’s explanation TQ3706 : Old well – Falmer Bottom is feasible bearing in mind there has to be water down there somewhere. (14 May, 2010)

Taken in 2012…

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett

Newmarket Bottom (30 July, 2012) by Paul Gillett.
(30 July, 2012)

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett.
(30 July, 2012)

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett.
(30 July, 2012)

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett

Newmarket Bottom by Paul Gillett.
(30 July, 2012)

Castle Hill by Paul Gillett

Castle Hill by Paul Gillett.
(30 July, 2012)

[I think Paul was thinking of the nearby Newmarket Plantation, tried writing Castle Hill and so made his mistake – for there is no plantation on Castle Hill.]

Newmarket Bottom by Simon Carey

Newmarket Bottom by Simon Carey.
Beginning at the end of Falmer Bottom before climbing Newmarket Hill to the left. (15 September, 2012)

Bridleway, Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Simon Carey

Bridleway, Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Simon Carey.
Climbing up from Falmer Bottom to meet Juggs Road to the east of Newmarket Hill. (15 September, 2012)

Remains of a Pump, Balsdean by Simon Carey

Remains of a Pump, Balsdean by Simon Carey.
The only remnant of Norton Farm which originally lay out of shot to the left. The farm was apparently vacant by the early 20th century and was commandeered by the military during the Second World War used for target practice. The machinery was used to pump water from a well. Beyond is the southern slope of Castle Hill which is largely open access as evident by the gate in the fence. (15 September, 2012)

Site of Norton Farm by Simon Carey

Site of Norton Farm by Simon Carey.
Other than TQ3706 : Remains of a Pump, Balsdean the only other clues to the site of the former farm is the depression to the left where the farmhouse was once located. Originally part of the small hamlet of Balsdean which originally included Sutton Farm which later became Balsdean Farm, the farm survived into the 20th century but had become uninhabited by the First World War. The buildings remained and were commandeered by the military during the Second who used it and the neighbouring buildings in Balsdean for target practice. Any remains were cleared after the war with the farm reborn a mile to the south and TQ3706 : Ruined Barns, Balsdean erected to service it. What was once a populous valley is now thoroughly deserted. Beyond is Falmer Bottom. (15 September, 2012)

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey.
Running northwards from TQ3706 : Site of Norton Farm to Newmarket Hill. (15 September, 2012)

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey

Falmer Bottom by Simon Carey.
The continuation of TQ3706 : Falmer Bottom as it rounds the corner to head towards Newmarket Bottom. (15 September, 2012)

Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Simon Carey

Castle Hill National Nature Reserve by Simon Carey.
A small nature reserve above Falmer Bottom that has been managed as chalk grassland. It was set up in 1975. (15 September, 2012)

A big thank-you to Simon Carey, Paul Gillett, Dave Spicer, and Robin Webster.

Distant memories…

It all started with my mother pointing out that a pile of demolition rubble over the Downs beyond Woodingdean, hidden by nettles and brambles, was her birth place. So I asked her uncle, Dougie Holland – an artist who had distant memories of the farm – to paint a picture of what it might have looked like. His memory was not clear, and nor is that of everyone else we have spoken to with their distant memories of when they lived or visited, over 60 years ago.

Was the well on the south or the north side of the house, and how big was it? Was the outside toilet by the front garden gate or next to the house by the front door? And indoors, what was the fireplace like – how big was it, and was it in the centre of the house against the wall which divided the downstairs into two? And where was the pantry? Was there a backdoor?

Amongst the brambles and nettles I discovered a patch of spearmint, to the south of the house site, which coincides with the approximate location of a water tank shown on a plan of the farm drawn in about 1920. However, no-one who lived there seems to be able to recall such a tank. Perhaps it was really a well? Such plans have often been found to be incorrect – the plan may have shown a proposed tank which was never constructed. But then again, memories are also known to be fallable.

These are some of the reasons why I started to consider the possibility of an archaeological excavation. Those who used to live there have memeories of the place. An archaeological dig would provide material substance to their precious memories. In turn, their distant memories would help give meaning to the objects which may be found.

Welcome to Newmarket Hill – a South Down Blog!

Featured

Two hundred metres above the nearby English Channel, Newmarket Hill crowns that part of the South Downs which lies between the towns of Brighton to the west and Lewes to the east, and between the villages of Rottingdean to the south and Falmer to the north. It’s top is in the parish of Kingston near Lewes, the village of which is about a mile and half away. However, it is now only about a mile to the north-east of the relatively modern village of Woodingdean and a mile and a half to the north-west of the deserted medieval hamlet of Balsdean. Its south-eastern slopes form a part of Castle Hill National Nature Reserve which is a site of European importance. This blog is about the history and ecology of its surrounding downland.

Newmarket Farm by Douglas Holland

Newmarket Farm by Douglas Holland.

In April 2013 I managed – as a volunteer for Natural England – a community based excavation of the site of a 19th century farm labourer’s cottage, farmyard and barns called Newmarket Farm, just inside Castle Hill NNR, near the summit of Newmarket Hill. It was built in 1830 and was the birth place of my mother in 1942, shortly before it was requisitioned for military training by British and Canadian troops stationed both locally and further afield in SE England.

Newmarket Farm location

Newmarket Farm location. Overlay of old and new O.S. maps and Google satellite images.

Some Recommended Blog Entries

Some post-dig updates

Talks, related projects & research

Reports & book

David Cuthbertson: scienceinthegreen@gmail.com

Some dates for your diary (best viewed by clicking on ‘Agenda’ tab):