Many of the gardens in Coldean are likely to produce archaeological evidence for activities in the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods. When the Coldean estate was being built workmen found ditches dating from the Roman times, and an Iron Age round house was uncovered in the Nanson Road area. The excavations at Varley Halls found a Bronze Age settlement consisting of ditches and house terraces cut into the side of the steep hill. There was also a child burial.
In the early part of 2009 the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society conducted a watching brief on a new house extension in Wolseley Road, as part of a planning condition. The house extension trenches found nothing but building rubble from the original house construction, but in the garden the cutting for a soakaway revealed a new ditch.
The house owner allowed the BHAS Field Unit to open a small trench, about 2 metres long and 1 metre wide to investigate another section of the ditch. The finds from this small section included cattle bone, flint flakes, fire-cracked flint (from a possible hearth) and cream ware pottery that probably comes form kilns in the Chailey area. The ditch appears to going in a direction would link it to another ditch found in the 1950’s excavation which included in its fill a cremation urn burial. Both ditches are dated to the first century A.D.
A student from Sussex University, with BHAS support, has conducted some resistivity surveying in the fields to the west of the pathway that links Varley Halls to Stanmer Great Wood. The results of the survey show a number of interesting anomalies that may prove to be part of the ancient settlement. One feature may prove be the location of a ploughed out burial mound or tumulus.
John Funnell (Archaeological Co-ordinator Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society)