Members of the Prehistoric Group undertook a fieldwalking exercise in Chilworth in June 2014. The group had been alerted by Andrew Norris that a field on the southern slopes of St. Martha’s Hill and belonging to Chilworth Manor had recently been ploughed. This field had been pasture for many years and was being prepared to plant a vineyard so this was a limited opportunity to walk over land on the hill which is mostly mixed woodland and open grassland.
Chilworth Manor lies within the Surrey Hills AONB on the southern slopes of St. Martha’s Hill. This area is dominated by the Greensand ridge crowned by St. Martha’s Church and the land falls steeply downhill with the present field pattern formed in the 19th century. There is evidence for prehistoric activity on the hill, particularly during the Mesolithic period, though the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods are also represented in the SHHER records.
The project took place in the field centred at TQ 028476 and c.325x132m in size. There is a WW2 pillbox in the southwest corner (SHHER 6480) and a possible ring ditch (SHHER 4729) was suggested to be in the centre of the field but is now thought to have been the remains of a pond which is recorded on 19th century maps in that position. The field walking finds appear to concur with that supposition.
The field was walked in a north-south direction at 4-5m intervals starting at the eastern end. There were no significant finds from any period although flint flakes and tools as well as more recent artefacts were found on every line. Some 300 flint artefacts were collected of which about 10% were tool forms, mostly blades, cores and scrapers. Two probable RB sherds were recovered as were a number of late medieval and post-medieval CBM fragments. The CBM was largely found in a central band 10m either side of the baseline set at c60 OD. These results are unremarkable with no significant clusters for any period, but do demonstrate the longterm and widespread use of the Chilworth area beneath the hill and beside the Tillingbourne.
We are grateful to the landowner, Graham Wrigley, for permission to work in this field. Thanks are also due to the volunteers who did the exercise: Antony Allen, Judie English, David Lea, Anne Morrison, Jenny Newell, Andrew Norris, Sylvia Solarski, Matthew Tugwell, Ken Waters and Keith Winser.