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Press release

  • 14 July 2006

Have a dig at Barcombe’s Roman villa

A wide view of the Barcome site

Budding archaeologists are invited to get their hands dirty this summer on the site of a Roman villa at Barcombe, near Lewes, East Sussex.

Short courses aimed at beginners or those with some experience of archaeological digs are being run on the site by the University of Sussex's Centre for Continuing Education, in association with the Mid Sussex Field Archaeological Team. The courses will cover excavation techniques; field survey; planning and section drawing; archaeological conservation; and site photography for archaeologists.

Excavation work at the villa in Barcombe began in 1999 after a geophysical survey revealed the foundations of a Roman villa 45 metres long by 20 metres wide and believed to date from around AD250.

The large house, with an east and left wing linked by a long corridor, would have had views across the Ouse valley towards the South Down. Although most of the original masonry has been removed, perhaps to build the nearby church of St Mary in the 12th century, archaeologists have been able to identify the layout and features of the settlement, including a suite of Roman baths and a large, aisled building.

Artefacts and features from other time periods have also been uncovered on the site, including a Palaeolithic hand axe, a Bronze Age ring ditch and a number of pits dating to Saxon times. The work this summer, which has already started, will concentrate on the south-western area of the villa complex and has already revealed the footings of another masonry building.

David Rudling, lecturer in archaeology at the University of Sussex, says: "The excavation of Barcombe Villa is of particular interest as it has revealed a long history of development on the site, from first century 'Iron Age type' timber roundhouses, to a rectangular building with masonry wall footings and finally to a large and luxurious house."

Mr Rudling adds: "There is still much to be learnt about the Roman and Saxon occupation of this interesting site and our courses and follow-on volunteering opportunities are ideal ways for people to get involved in practical archaeology.

"If you enjoy watching the television archaeology series Time Team, this is an excellent opportunity to have a go and learn how archaeologists find, excavate and record a site. Even for those who are not so keen on the actual digging side of things, our Open Day on 29 July or weekend site tours, which run until 13th August, are a chance to see an excavation in progress. And in the autumn you can follow up your interest by joining one of our archaeology courses, which are run throughout Sussex."

Notes for editors

All courses are suitable for amateur archaeologists, prospective archaeology students and undergraduates. There is a minimum age of 16. For further information, call 01273 678527, or visit

The Open Day at Barcombe Villa (with adjacent car park) will be on Saturday 29 July from 11am to 4pm.

University of Sussex Press Office contacts, Jacqui Bealing or Alison Field, Tel: 01273 877437, Email:



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