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!

New Team Member Helps Confirm Site Plan

Sunday 13th January, 2013

My (nearly) 13 year old niece and my mother, braved the cold to help me find out whether a plan of Newmarket Farm which we had was an accurate representation of the archaeology on the ground. The plan was a copy of the one that was found in documents held in East Sussex Record Office, and was probably drawn in 1921 when Oscar Selbach bought Newmarket Farm.

1921 Selbach plan of Newmarket Farm. From ESRO

1921 Selbach plan of Newmarket Farm. From ESRO

The overall aim of the day’s work was to perform (some of) the tasks required to be done before being able to mark the area of the archaeological dig site, approximately 3m beyond the boundaries of the Newmarket Farm site. The extra 3m is to provide public access as well room to place the spoil from the trenches.

The area of the site needs to be marked out before the next date which has been planned for the clearance of the rest of the site.

Based on the dimensions given for the water tank, the scale of the plan has been estimated, and has therefore enabled the lengths of the wall lines to be meassured. My measurements were independently confirmed by my niece.

The next objective was to identify two fixed points of archaeology on the ground to check the accuracy of Selbach’s plan. Previous to the site clearance work of the 9th January, only the SE corner (bottom right on the plan) was visible and some isolated portions of the south and east boundary walls. During site clearance a small portion of the wall which divided the garden from the farm-yard was revealed. Therefore our next task was to uncover enough of this wall to be able to estimate where it met the southern boundary wall, somewhere near a small elder bush.

Looking E at my niece & myself finding the wall-line between garden and farm-yard; 13th January 2013.

Looking E at my niece & myself finding the wall-line between garden and farm-yard; 13th January 2013.

Did I say that it was cold! Also, almost all of the existing line of the wall was buried under a thick mat of bramble and stinging nettle roots. No wonder Time Team makes it look so easy – they have a mechanical digger to do this part!

Looking SE at my niece & myself finding the wall-line between garden and farm-yard; 13th January 2013.

Looking SE at my niece & myself finding the wall-line between garden and farm-yard; 13th January 2013.

But with hard work and perseverance we managed to expose enough of the wall to estimate that it met the southern boundary wall immediately to the east (left) of the elder bush.

Next, Selbach’s plan indicated that the distance from this point to the SE corner of the garden boundary wall was about 52.5 feet. When we meassured this on the ground it was found to be about 52 feet. Therefore we felt able to (provisionally) conclude that Selbach’s plan could be used as a guide to estimating the lengths of the other walls.

Just before we left I quickly measured the distance between the elder and the SW corner of the house, and marked it with a peg. There was no sign of any change in ground level in the vicinity of this point. Selbach’s plan will therefore be very importantant for any future attempts to locate archaeological targets on the ground.

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.

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.