Pestalozzi's Roman history revealed

Site of iron works
Photo: A summer view over the Pestalozzi fields, the site of a Roman iron-works. (Photo by Jonathan Williams.)
Talk on Romans in Sedlescombe
Photo: David Staveley from the Independent Historical Research Group discusses the findings. (Photo by Jonathan Williams.)

Magnetometry survey at Pestalozzi
Image: Aerial view of Pestalozzi and surrounds, showing the magnetometry results of the survey. (Image courtesy David Staveley.)

18 February 2014

Archaeologists have discovered a Roman road and what appears to be the remains of an ancient building at the Roman iron-working site at Pestalozzi in Sedlescombe.

Researchers from the Independent Historical Research Group (IHRG) have been studying the layout of the Sedlescombe iron-works using geophysics to look beneath the surface. Their research has revealed iron processing areas, huge pits, trackways and what is believed to be a building crowded on the south side of the River Brede floodplain. The river would have been navigable in Roman times, and it is likely there was a small port used to transport finished iron out of the area.

In a presentation to over 40 people from East Sussex and Kent, David Staveley from the IHRG explained that a metalled Roman road has also been discovered leading from Pestalozzi to Beauport Park, another well-known local iron-working site. The discovery of this road means Beauport Park can now be connected to a Roman road network extending all the way up to Rochester in Kent, the site of a walled town in Roman times.

"The Weald of Sussex may seem leafy and pleasant today, but in Roman times, it used to be an industrial landscape,” said David. "The Romans exploited the iron ore in the area, leaving it pock-marked with ore pits and felled trees.”

"This wasn't a small scale operation,” he added. "The Classis Britannica, or British Fleet were also involved with extracting and transporting iron on an industrial scale. We aim to carry out more archaeological research at Pestalozzi this year and are hoping to find proof that the Classis Britannica was involved in the Sedlescombe iron-working site.”

The IHRG is not the first to study the area. Gerald Brodribb, famous for excavating the Roman bath house at Beauport Park, discovered parts of the road connecting the two sites, but never published his findings. This new research confirms his theories.

For more about this research, download and read the report, or read David’s blog posts: September 2012 and August 2013.

If you're looking for a venue for your next talk, why not consider booking a room at Pestalozzi?

Inspiring young people to make a difference in the world.