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.

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.

New WWII Archaeology on the Downs?

Really excited that after a walk to Castle Hill nature reserve, on the side of Newmarket Hill, I may have found some new archaeology!

At TQ36470682, just above the edge of the steep sided Newmarket Bottom, was a spread of small (about 1cm diameter) pebbles associated with a 5m diameter roughly levelled off platform. It was sited just at the point of maximum visibility down into the valley bottom.

Apparently during the Second World War there was a particular concern that paratroopers would drop down into remote downland valleys at night. Therefore big lights were stationed at suitable positions to spot them.

I have as yet no idea what they looked like, but I have been informed there was one on the corner of the Falmer Road looking down into Bevendean valley.

I guess the next thing to do is to pass these details on to the East Sussex Historic Environment Record Officer (HER), who is based in Lewes.

Most of the Downs beyond Brighton were requisitioned by the armed forces during the last war. There should certainly be lots of archaeology dating to this time. Only since I started to study the history of Newmarket Farm have I become aware of the importance of modern archaeology, and how easily it can be lost.

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.

Welcome to Newmarket Hill – a South Down Blog!

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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

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