Horsham District Archaeology Group (HDAG) has in their possession a cannonball that was handed to them by a member of the public.
It was found during the construction of the Hop Oast roundabout north of Southwater circa 1972 and it’s understood there were more, along with clay pipes.
The proximity of the find’s location to the new housing development at ‘The Copse’ alerted HDAG, as there is no official record of the cannonball being found, nor does it appear in any of the historical documentation used to compile archaeological assessments prior to development.
The recent changes in the provision of archaeological advice for the Horsham District Council (as reported in WSCC, April 16, 2015) meant HDAG could no longer contact the WSCC Archaeological Officer to assist with this matter.
The replacement archaeological advice for the HDC is currently being provided by White Young Green, a global project management and technical consultancy, who charge the district for all advice sought.
HDAG have informed the Planning Officer at HDC who has informed the archaeologist at WYG. This means the canon ball will now be recorded and perhaps the site investigated to see if there are any more. As HDAG have been given to understand that more cannonballs and related ordnance were collected by members of the public at the time, they would urge anyone with any further knowledge of what was collected, or who has any of the finds still in their possession, to inform HDAG so that these finds can also now be recorded.
During the Napoleonic wars there were several regiments based in Horsham, whose barracks were on the site of Horsham cricket field. The size of the cannon ball suggests that it may be from this period. HDAG are very lucky to have been offered the chance to have it analysed using the very latest scientific techniques which could help in dating it.
The Horsham district is packed with archaeological discoveries. The most recent, at Broadbridge Heath where finds and features ranged from the Mesolithic period (circa 5000BC) to the Second World War and at Southwater which showed evidence of occupation during the late Iron Age (100BC) to Romano- British and medieval periods, highlight the fact that significant archaeological finds can be found anywhere. This demonstrates the importance of comprehensive archaeological assessments taking place prior to any developments
With the recent loss of access to the expert local knowledge of the WSCC archaeological officers, it is even more even more important that all archaeological finds and features are recorded, particularly those found by chance by members of the public. Any archaeology found as part of a development will be recorded. It is finds and features not yet documented that have the potential to be missed.
HDAG are the local voluntary society for archaeology in the Horsham district, and are pleased to offer advice and guidance to members of the public and official bodies, on the investigation and recording of all potential archaeological discoveries.
If anyone has any more information on the finds discovered at Hop Oast or any other archaeological matter, please contact Horsham District Archaeology Group on firstname.lastname@example.org
Report and picture contributed by Joan Francis.