Open letter to County Archaeologist recent developments

Can you confirm whether the report is true Casper that a complete Iron Age cooking pot was found in the staff compound being built at the Wilting Farm site in Crowhurst? I believe you are aware that my 1997 work suggested an Iron Age camp at the top of Wilting Hill. The photographs on my web site were dismissed at the time by the then County Archaeologist, exactly where the compound is being built. A defensive ditch just south of the compound was also dismissed. If correct this find confirms the previously dismissed claim of continuous habitation from the Bronze Age to the Normans on the top of this hill and evidence is now in the archaeological record for those top fields for each of the relevant periods in history including the Norman period pottery found by Wessex.

That compound currently being bulldozed through also cut through the Roman track that led to the earthen jetties down by the edge of the marsh. Were any Roman pottery shards found where that track cut through the compound? I know you have found them on the adjacent top field.

I hear the political wind is changing direction. Are you sure they should continue to build east of the Combe Haven before further investigations take place at the Wilting site? We have now completed the resistivity survey at the Manor House site in Crowhurst, as discussed, and if there is a large building there you will be the first to know. I know your reservations and despite this surely it would be prudent to be very careful on that top field at Wilting when matters are still unresolved and we need to see the survey results first.

You know it takes time to get the evidence that will persuade everyone of such an important issue – this is the nature of history and archaeology. Everything that has been claimed to date will now fall under the microscope because it was claimed that “all my claims were investigated at the public inquiries” by the now defunct power base at County Hall which was headed by Peter Jones is now powerless. You and I know only too well that my claims in the Crowhurst Valley relating to the battlefield for the Battle of Hastings materialised after both the public inquiries took place, so those claims cannot be true and have not been tested. Indeed it is quite clear that these statements have been made in the past to misinform councilors and other politicians who support caution.

We know there is a claimed crossbow (early footbow) in the field where documents say the Battle of Hastings was fought (not the traditional site) and I recently had a verbal confirmation from one of the people at the Wallace Collection (probably the most experienced armor museum in London apart from the Tower) that the image taken at the time suggested it was an early footbow, but they cannot be sure unless it is re-excavated. We also have the claimed helmet rims from the malfosse (a feature missing from the traditional site) and these have not been seen by metalurgists. We have the defensive ditches that Wace identifies next to the plain where Henry of Huntingdon says the Battle started on “level ground” and these have not been excavated and we have agreed to research the manor house site because it is claimed this is the site where the foundations of the original Abbey was built on the battlefield upon the instructions of William the Conqueror. This last matter is now about to be put on the table. Should we really wait for the reformed Time Team or one of the other national shows who are courting me to investigate this Autumn so that everyone can be shamed into admitting their mistakes on public television? That should not be necessary.

I am not going to seek to change your mind but just remind you that this is your patch and people come to give an impartial view. This coming week I am lecturing at the Medieval History Department at Trinity College Dublin and they are the most important medieval dept for history outside of the UK for English History. I am there to get their support for the correct battlefield in Crowhurst. You do not get invited unless the case is solid. You are an archaeologist and my work is as a historian. We may differ on whether what we have already dug up and seen constitutes evidence of a battlefield, but the time for recognising this claim has to be investigated properly is now – before work on the western end of the Link Road completely destroys the integrity of the top field at Wilting. This is because a lot of people who have seen what has been written in the original historical texts believe it is part of the most important national heritage this country has – the site of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Invasion – one event and one set of documents that all point to the same place called the Crowhurst Valley.

You told me that I had not provided you with the evidence to prove that the field in Crowhurst was the site of the Battle of Hastings or a battlefield and I said I am not an archaeologist. I said to you that you do not have the evidence to dismiss this claim and you cannot dismiss it without examining the elements that I have identified. At present every single element that I have presented to you has stood scrutiny and is supported by all the documents written at the time of the Battle. I have dismissed all of John Grehans contradictory elements and this will shortly be published in the Battlefields Trust magazine and is published on my blog. It is time to recognise that whilst I cannot at this time claim authority for the battlefield, because as I have said this takes time, neither can you claim to have any expert analysis to dismiss it with any authority either. The English Heritage re-assessment of the Battlefield was inherently flawed and being challenged because they did not look at any of the new evidence. The expert views given on television as a response have also been shown to be flawed. Your new political masters need to know this before it is too late. You confirmed that nothing is known about this building in Crowhurst. It should not be there but is.

It is time to remember Richard the Third in the car park I think. Experts are not always right and proper caution by at least looking at what is claimed can sometimes produce the best result for everyone. We could deliver a World Heritage Site which is much needed in the area. Peter Jones could not do that – the evidence we are seeking would and we have a duty to look before the Link Road is finalised.

Nick Austin

Categories: Announcements | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Open letter to County Archaeologist recent developments

  1. Superb Nick!

  2. Hello Nick, I’ve been posting about your research on our Megalithic Portal.

    A bit out of our time period of course but can you shed some light on the Iron Age bank shown at 4:29 on your Wilting Link Road video?

  3. Response from Casper Johnson County Archaeologist

    Dear Nick,

    I can confirm that no Iron Age cooking pot has been found in the compound area at Upper Wilting Farm by Oxford Archaeology. A single pot has been found in the compound area, which OA have provisionally dated as Early to Middle Saxon. The compound area was carefully machine stripped under archaeological supervision as part of the complete programme of archaeological work for the Link Road scheme that OA are undertaking and no evidence for the track way that ran south from Upper Wilting Farm was revealed.

    Kind regards


  4. Thanks but ??? So it’s not Iron Age?

    • Aparently not according tothe County Archaeologist – the original report came fro the people at Oxford Archaeology I am told but was revised later.

  5. Marianne Egan

    Let’s get Time Team out there to dig some ditches!

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