Pre-Roman 'farming collective' discovered on South Downs

Zardoz Greek zardos777 at
Tue Jul 12 19:40:19 BST 2016

South Downs pre-Roman 'farming collective' discovered
12 July 2016

Prehistoric farming area
Image caption The survey revealed the extent of farming on the South Downs before the Romans arrived
Evidence of a prehistoric "farming collective" has been discovered after aerial laser scanning was carried out in the South Downs National Park.

Large-scale farming from before the Roman invasion suggests a high level of civilisation, archaeologists said.

The survey also revealed the route of a long-suspected Roman road between Chichester and Brighton.

It covered an area between the Arun river valley in West Sussex and Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire.

Prehistoric farming area
Image caption The area surveyed included Lamb Lea scheduled monument, the land within the red line between Hampshire and the Arun river valley
Prehistoric farming area
Image caption The red lines show the number of prehistoric fields running across the South Downs
The "Lidar" survey technique uses an aircraft-mounted laser beam to scan the ground and produce a 3D model of features that survive as earthworks or structures in open land or woodland.

Images of land between Lamb Lea Woods and Charlton Forest showed that a field system already protected as a scheduled monument was just a small part of a vast swathe of later pre-historic cultivation extending under a now wooded area.

James Kenny, archaeological officer at Chichester District Council, said it suggested a civilisation closer to ancient Greece, Egypt or Rome than what is known of prehistoric Britain.

'Organised farming'

"One of our biggest findings is the discovery of a vast area farmed by pre-historic people on an astonishing scale," said Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the South Downs National Park Authority,

Mr Kenny added that the evidence raised questions about who was growing the crops, who was eating the food and where they were living.

"The scale is so large that it must have been managed, suggesting that this part of the country was being organised as a farming collective," he said.

The route of the road suggests the Romans would have headed out from their settlement at Chichester on Stane Street, the road to London, before branching east towards Arundel.

"The recognition of the 'missing link' in the Roman road west of Arundel was a highlight in a project full of exciting results," said Helen Winton, aerial investigation manager at Historic England.

Horse riders in the national park
Image caption The South Downs was designated as a national park in 2011
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05 December 2015

Chichester skeleton: Racton Man 'was warrior chief killed in battle'
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Heath protection for South Downs National Park
27 June 2014

Chichester Roman mosaic moved to Novium museum
07 May 2012

'Historic day' for South Downs National Park
01 April 2011
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