My world has changed since my last post, over six months ago. Not in any alarming, earth-shattering way, but as far as the thesis is concerned I felt a new direction was necessary. I am still getting used to the pace and demands of being a full-time PhD student and having spent most of my summer assisting on projects with outside institutions such as Project Eliseg and large-scale geophysical survey around Aldborough, in North Yorkshire, I have let my own work slip.
My previous post was based on the fact that I was granted permission to conduct a ground penetrating radar survey in the yard of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Burpham, West Sussex. This plan is still in the works, but hiring the necessary geophysical equipment is expensive. The instrument alone costs £500 for a week. I have tried to source funding through the University to no avail and Sussex Archaeological Society meets once a year to determine recipients of their fieldwork grants. Perhaps I will be successful in the Spring and this aspect of my project can move ahead.
The waterscapes project will move ahead, with alterations. My experience with the Aldborough survey has opened my eyes to the utility of large-scale geophysical surveys and the greater opportunity to make meaningful interpretations of the data. I have therefore decided to consolidate my fieldwork into discrete areas around Chichester and Pagham Harbours. There is an urgency, too, in making this change. The environment is constantly in flux- that is known. In my background reading for this project, it is estimated that over a mile of the Selsey Bill shoreline has been lost since the Roman period through coastal erosion and with it priceless information regarding the archaeological record of Sussex.
With the recent concern over rising sea levels and other environmental phenomena, I feel duty-bound to preserve the record in any way I can. Therefore I am proposing to use geophysical survey to record and map sites from all periods located within the areas assessed to be most under threat. To do this I am hoping to join forces with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy and work closely with the Chichester and District Archaeological Society to complete a large-scale survey in these sensitive environments.
The interpretive angle of my thesis will, however, remain unchanged. I am still seeking to elucidate the apprehension and exploitation of waterscapes in the early medieval period of western Sussex. Though fieldwork will be conducted primarily in the Chichester and Pagham Harbour areas, there will be opportunities (Burpham, for one!) elsewhere, and the maritime history of western Sussex is open to interpretation and will serve to contextualise my results.