Dramatic discovery at Roman excavation site

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During the last days of the excavation at Bridge Farm, Barcombe Mills, members of the Culver Archaeological Project team have finally been able to excavate safely down to the remains of a Roman well with an in-situ timber frame that has remained intact for nearly 2000 years due to being constantly under water and encased in liquid mud.

To the archaeologists a find of this kind, whilst perhaps not as instantly appealing to the general public as a hoard of coins, is of great significance for investigating life at the Bridge Farm settlement during the Roman period.

The substantial timbers show the method of construction of the well lining using halving joints to form an overlapping (Oxford-type) frame which continues for several layers down into the dark waters which need regular pumping out as it continually fills the bottom half of the excavation.

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Other smaller timber fragments and leather shoe fragments have been recovered from the well along with Roman pottery and animal bones, with the surrounding blue-grey clay being searched for environmental finds such as charred seeds.

Lifting one of the timbers from the Roman well.Lifting one of the timbers from the Roman well.
Lifting one of the timbers from the Roman well.

The team have managed to retrieve the top layer of the remaining timber work which shows damage from the digging of a pit at some time later in the Roman period which possibly accidentally cut into the well after it had gone out of use and been filled in.

The team also hope to retrieve the next layer of deeper and intact timbers with the hope that they may have sufficient tree-rings to be accurately dated by dendrochronology.

Less good news is the possible closure of Barcombe Mills Road between the A26 and Bridge Farm on the weekend of the projects Open Day and Site Tours, which will mean that all visitors will need to come to the site via Barcombe village rather than from the Uckfield-Lewes road.

Up-to-date information on this can be found at https://one.network/public. General information on the Bridge Farm excavations can be found at www.culverproject.co.uk.

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