Please see below for a selection of Speaker Abstracts, we'll keep updating this page so keep checking back for further details.
Reflections on Herbert S. Toms: Archaeologist and Curator
Richard is the grandson of Herbert Toms (HST), the colourful archaeologist and curator whose time at Brighton Museum has left a major record of pioneering work and a huge commitment to making archaeology better known and more accessible.
Richard was very young when HST was alive and his view of HST comes from the Family and from material handed down. This combines, nonetheless, into a strong understanding of HST’s achievements and of the need to tell his story.
The talk starts with HST’s origins in Dorset and his hugely significant recruitment into Pitt Rivers’ team at Rushmore. The move was prophetic in that Pitt Rivers had earlier carried out digs at sites in Sussex – later to be re-visited and built on by HST.
Having inherited the Dorset Estates and Title Pitt Rivers (formerly Lane Fox) had resolved to leave the army and to devote himself to archaeology. He brought rigour and innovation to the task and was certainly helped in this by HST.
By the time of his move to Sussex HST had accumulated strong experience in the supervision of digs and the cataloguing of finds. He had also taken on some of the warm but military character of Pitt Rivers. This was evident in Ralph Merrifield’s account of his interview for a post with HST – from which he would move on to the London Museum.
HST’s time at the Brighton Museum was hugely productive, locally very visible and highly documented. The earlier years were particularly happy whilst Christine, his wife, was alive. In Brighton his spirit lives on. More widely, his contribution to his field is increasingly recognised.
Going Loopy: replicating Bronze Age Sussex loops
Sussex loops are enigmatic and beautiful objects of the Southern Bronze Age. Around 35 are known to exist, with the majority coming from Sussex, in the vicinity of Brighton - although there are a couple of finds from further afield in Surrey.
Evidencing many different styles and decorative elements, they are all linked by their related form: a folded and looped metal bar, bent into a circle and then fixed by overlapping the two ends around the loop. The most obvious suggestion for their use is as an armlet/bracelet and most fit an arm, but many have an aperture too small for such a use, and therefore their precise function remains unknown.
However, our replication work has not only allowed the method of manufacture to be better understood, but has also offered the opportunity to examine how these artefacts might have functioned in life. This paper will look at the manufacture of loops and the insights given by the replication of these beguiling symbols of the Sussex Bronze Age.
Dr Tess Machling, Independent Researcher, St Albans.
Roland Williamson, Museum replica maker, Bodgit & Bendit, Cheltenham.
Community Policing: Defending our Heritage
My name is Daryl Holter, I’m a Police Community Support Officer, Heritage Crime Officer and Advisor based in Hastings, Sussex. I have worked for Sussex Police since 2003. I grew up with a passion for history, so helping to protect our nation’s heritage is second nature to me. Therefore, over the last six years I have become increasingly involved in preventing and investigating heritage crime.
What is Heritage Crime?
Heritage crime is any offence which harms the value of England's heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations.
To many criminals, historic buildings, churches, houses, castles, forts, earthworks, battlefields, wreck sites and other historic sites are simply sources of illicit gain, damage or diversion. These heritage assets are often exploited with no regard to what they may represent to the communities in which they are located. Those who for instance are knowingly buying stolen scrap metal or stolen relics from heritage assets are creating a market which is driving heritage crime, some of these buildings have been around for hundreds of years, surviving world wars and the elements of time and nature but are now being spoiled by us. There are several reasons behind these crimes, greed, selfishness, sheer wanton vandalism, a misguided self-belief of saving our heritage and simply unknowingly committing offences.
PCSO, Heritage Crime Officer & Advisor, Wildlife Crime Officer
Minepits, mud and mayhem: evidence of the Wealden Iron Industry at Horam
Archaeology South-East (ASE) was commissioned by Bovis Homes to undertake archaeological work on a development site at Horebeech Lane, Horam. Mechanical excavation of trial trenches in December 2018 proved that archaeological features survived at the site. Full-scale excavations began the following March, and continued until July 2019, by which time an area of 3.3 hectares (approximately 8 acres) had been examined by the archaeological team.
The earliest material consisted of a thin scatter of prehistoric flintwork, but the first sustained activity at the site came with the establishment of a small ditched enclosure occupied during the Romano-British period. Pottery and waste materials from a bloomery furnace had been dumped into a group of pits within the enclosure and into the enclosure ditch itself. Unfortunately, the actual furnace (or furnaces) lay outside of the boundaries of the site..
However, the vast majority of the archaeological features found at the site were minepits, deep shafts dug for the extraction of iron ore from the underlying geological deposits. More than a thousand of these features were encountered and recorded, and those fully excavated were as much as 5m in diameter and 4m in depth.
The use of such minepits usually dates from the medieval and post-medieval period. The Horam workings seem to relate to the extraction of ore to supply a local blast furnace complex known as the Heathfield Furnace, which began operation in 1693, and continued in operation until 1793, primarily as a gun foundry.