Two millennia of change:
Sussex through the Neolithic
Dr Jon Baczkowski
The Neolithic (c. 4000-2200 cal BC) was a prehistoric period defined by cultural and social change. At its beginning, agricultural practices and domesticates were introduced by incoming Neolithic communities from the Continent, resulting in widespread environmental and landscape change. Towards the end of the Neolithic, Beaker people arrived from the Continent, bringing bronze technologies and new cultural customs. This talk will detail the cultural and environmental impact of the Neolithic on the landscape of Sussex. It will start by examining how Sussex transitioned from Late Mesolithic hunter and gatherers to Neolithic farmers. Next, the talk will outline how Neolithic communities, who constructed flint mines, causewayed enclosures and other monuments, changed the landscape of Sussex. The problem of defining Neolithic settlement will also be discussed with regards to the environs of Sussex, including Chalk Downland, the Coastal Plain and the Weald. The talk finishes with the arrival of the Beaker people, who also left their own mark on the Sussex landscape. Overall, the Neolithic is a defining period of British prehistory and resulted in longstanding and still visible changes to the landscape of Sussex, including some of the most enduring prehistoric monuments, such as causewayed enclosures, flint mines and long barrows.
Dr Jon Baczkowski
Jon studied archaeology at Masters level, graduating from the University of Reading in 2011 with a dissertation titled The Early Neolithic flint mines of Sussex and their Continental influences. The results of his Masters dissertation were published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology (2014), which is widely citied. He then undertook a part-time PhD at the University of Southampton between 2014 and 2021, researching flint mining and the spread of the Early Neolithic in Sussex. Subsequently Jon undertook Post-doctoral research at the Department of Archaeology at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, studying the chronology of Polish flint mining and the comparison of English and Polish flint mines. He has continued to carry out independent research on the Early Neolithic of southern England and Northwest Europe, publishing many of the results of his research in archaeological journals. Jon is an active member of the Commission on Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times, a working group of the Congress of International Union of the Prehistoric and Protohistoric sciences. He is also a prehistoric lithic and Neolithic pottery specialist and sits on the editorial board of the Sussex Archaeological Collections. He continues to work seasonally for the University of Southampton and continues to undertake research projects in collaboration with The Polish Academy of Sciences. For the last 8 years Jon has also worked both part-time and full-time as a Project Manager in development led archaeology for CBAS Ltd.
Dr Judie English, FSA, MCIfA
Judie first became involved in archaeology excavating ‘by that South Cadbury that is Camelot’, but later became more interested in what was going on beyond the trench - Landscape Archaeology. She has undertaken extensive fieldwork on the South Downs notably with Dick Tapper and the late David Lea. After completing an MA at Winchester University, she undertook doctoral research on late prehistoric field systems under the late Peter Drewett at the University of Sussex.
The development of field systems, settlements and enclosures during the Later Bronze Age and the Iron Age in Sussex
Dr Judie English
The evidence of socio-economic change is writ large on the landscape of the South Downs and developer-funded excavation on the coastal plain of West Sussex has added to our understanding of late prehistory in Sussex but, as always, questions remain. Large rectilinear field systems cover much of the chalk – did they provide food for a large population or were they formed, utilised, adapted and abandoned piecemeal over time? If the former where are all the settlements? These were superseded by agglomerated fields often sited in the valleys but enclosing less land and suggesting a change in emphasis to stock farming. Poorly dated but possibly contemporary are a novel form of earthwork, the cross-ridge dyke. Acting as way-markers some act to limit movement to ‘permitted’ ways – any earlier east / west route along the ridge of the downs goes out of use, access to high ground from the river valleys is discouraged, as are certain dominant high points. During the Late Bronze Age settlement on the coastal plain seems to have increased and many cross-ridge dykes delineate routes from there into the Low Weald, possibly for seasonal grazing of stock. This perceived need to control access and movement suggests development of an increasing hierarchical society and tension between different groups, a change which results in the construction of enclosed settlements and, eventually, hillforts.
The Impact of Rome
Dr David Rudling
The arrival of the Romans in South-East Britain in AD 43 resulted in dramatic changes to the social and economic environments, and these changes together with major developments in technology make the Roman occupation of Sussex one of the most distinctive and dynamic periods in the history of this area. We will review some of the major impacts on the Sussex Landscape – the introduction of roads and roadside settlements, the development of urbanism at Chichester, the building of Fishbourne Palace, villas, temples, and a shore-fort at Pevensey, less dramatic changes at farmsteads, the massive expansion of the Wealden iron industry, and also developments in other industries such as agriculture, stone quarrying, and pottery and tile making.
Dr David Rudling, FSA, MCIfA
David is the Academic Director of the Sussex School of Archaeology and History. Previously, he was Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Sussex, and prior to this Director of Archaeology South-East which is part of University College London. His main research interests include Roman rural settlements and land-use, religion and ritual in Roman Britain, and ancient and medieval numismatics. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, a Trustee of CBA South-East, and Chairman of the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society. His many publications include co-authorship (with Peter Drewett and Mark Gardiner) of The South-East to AD 1000 (1988) and co-authorship (with Miles Russell) of Bignor Roman Villa (2015)
Dr Marc Morris, FRHS
Marc is a historian who specialises in the Middle Ages. He studied and taught at the universities of London and Oxford and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England (2021) and The Norman Conquest (2012), as well as biographies of William the Conqueror, Edward I and King John. In 2003 he presented the TV series Castle and wrote its accompanying book.
The Impact of the Norman Conquest on Anglo-Saxon England
Dr Marc Morris (online)
1066 is the most famous date in English history. Everyone remembers the story, depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, of William the Conqueror's successful invasion, and the unfortunate King Harold being felled by an arrow in the eye.
But why do we remember 1066 above all other dates, and why do the events of that year matter so much?
‘The memory of the People’ – Changing Manorial Landscape in Sussex in the early modern period
Dr Caroline Adams
After the dissolution of the monasteries, the gentry of Sussex made use of all the right things being in place – increased wealth and an ability to buy property, a freer land market, and an economy which favoured the expansion of agriculture and growth of trade and merchandise. All these things led to an increased interest in creating their own power base in the Sussex countryside, and this influenced the way in which the landscape changed over this period. This talk looks at whether the people living on the manorial estates had any choice in the huge changes taking place.
Map of the Manors of East Dean, Old Lavington and Graffham, 1597
(Credit: WSRO Add Ms 48838 (excerpt))
Dr Caroline Adams
Caroline runs a research business, Key to the Past, and regularly carries out house histories and local history research for clients and architects. Until 2014 she was Senior Archivist at West Sussex Record Office; mainly lecturing and giving workshops. She now teaches palaeography online and runs courses on various aspects of local records. She holds a PhD on the significance of Elizabeth I’s progress in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey in 1591. Her specialist subject is the early modern gentleman in Sussex and London in the 16th century, and her research usually involves manorial records.
She is fascinated by local rural life in the 16th century - what we might recognise and what is fundamentally different culturally - and is a keen volunteer at the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex. Caroline was proud to win the BALH Local History Award for research and publication (short article) in 2020, and she is now working on a book on local Elizabethan gentry.
Dr Sue Berry, FSA, FRHS
Sue taught at a University for many years, ending her career as a Principal Lecturer. She now lectures and publishes on themes related to the period between about 1680 and 1914. Her latest book is Country Houses of the Sussex Downs published by the Sussex Archaeological Society. Articles written by her in the Sussex Archaeological Collections can be downloaded free from the website of the Archaeology Data Service. Those in other journals can be accessed on the website Academia.edu. Or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The transformation by the Georgians and Victorians of the urban and rural landscape of Sussex
Dr Sue Berry
Between 1700 and 1914, Sussex was transformed from a rural county dotted with country houses and with prosperous small provincial towns such as Horsham, Chichester and Lewes. By the 1780s, the landscape and the economy had started to change. Better communications such as turnpikes, canals and improvements to river mouths to improve access for the development of coastal ports were one sign. The conversion of declining coastal towns such as Brighton into seaside resorts, and the establishment the new towns of Worthing and Bognor another. By 1815, Brighton was more populous than any other town in Sussex, sign of the shift of population and power to the coast. After a period of depression, the economy of Sussex was revived by the railway system, in which local people invested in the hope that this would happen. The resorts became the major beneficiaries of the railway network, particularly those which attracted investors from London on elsewhere such as Brighton and Eastbourne. Each acquired a unique identity. They also attracted many people from the Weald where there was underemployment and unemployment. The rash of small leisure estates which were developed in the Weald by the Loder family and others who had made a lot of money in London, Russia and elsewhere did offer some employment but not enough to prevent out migration. Improvements to communications helped farming, it stimulated the dairy industry and other high value farming activities and helped to save some estates from breaking up from the 1870s. By 1914, venturesome cyclists and motorists were exploring Sussex, their presence raising issues about speed and other issues we still debate today.
‘Scattered squalor’, ‘Downland Homes’, and counter-urbanisation: a century or more of societal change
Dr Geoffrey Mead
The Sussex landscape in the last century was one where the agricultural landscape changed from the early deep depression to one of expansion in World War 2 and the post-war agricultural boom and…Brexit! The increase in the countryside to leisure usage and environmental concerns brought further change. This was a rural background to the urban landscape of dramatic housing change, from urban slum clearance, to interwar plotlands and semis, to New Town and the architecture of counter-urbanisation. This was all alongside a dramatic change in transport technology: a rapid increase in car-ownership and by-pass roads, electric trains and ‘Beeching’.
Dr Geoffrey Mead
Geoffrey, who was born and raised in Brighton, is a former Convenor for Local History at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at the University of Sussex where he worked as part of the Landscape Studies degree team. Latterly, he worked part-time for the Geography department at the University and was awarded a PhD for his research regarding the growth of suburban Brighton. Geoffrey now lectures on a range of local history and landscape topics to groups across SE England…and beyond! He is also the Editor of the journal Sussex Industrial History.