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20 March 2011
Investigation of a Bronze Age barrow in Sussex

An investigation is under way into the significance of an Early Bronze Age barrow which has been revealed on the edge of a sandpit near Midhurst (West Sussex, England). The large mound, dating back to around 2000 BCE, is set to be toppled as more sand is extracted from the huge pit at Minsted. But first West Sussex County Council is working with the operator, the Dudman Group, to establish the importance of the barrow and what it may contain.
     Preparatory works for the archaeological survey included improving the stability of the ground around and under the barrow, vegetation clearance, and enabling vehicle access. County archaeologist John Mills said the first stage had been to carry out a detailed topographical survey to record the location of the mound. "The second part has been a metal detector survey, at this stage only marking where any finds are showing up, some of which may then be further investigated." The third stage, for which no start date has yet been set, is to dig some small-scale trenches to establish the exact size of the mound, reputed to be a substantial 32 metres in width, according to 1970s records.
     "There might be early bronze-age daggers and axes, but they would be in the middle of the mound," Mr Mills said. More invasive work, including excavation of the finds, is programmed under the agreement between the county and the operator, before the barrow is lost to sand quarrying. Mr Mills said none of the planning conditions licensing the pit had required the historic mound to be preserved. The only alternative was to fully record its location. "At the moment we are waiting for the results of the preliminary investigations to see how significant and important this barrow is, and what degree of further excavation and recording it is going to need," Mr Mills added.
     The barrow is at the end of a line of five in the area, none of which have been excavated to discover what they contain. A sixth has already been subsumed in the sandpit as it has expanded over the past 30 years.

Edited from Midhurst and Petworth Observer (18 March 2011)

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