Wednesday 13 November 2019

A Great Bustard and a Saxon church

This morning I visited the Newhaven / Seaford area to see the Great Bustard that has been reported in a kale field the past few days. I had some indications of where to go from the Sussex Ornithological Society’s sightings page and found a parking place where I thought the right track led up the hill. I found the kale field but couldn’t see anyone else around and had walked the length of the field and back before I saw other birders arrive. I met someone who had seen it the past 2 days so knew what he was looking for. Then he spotted it at the bottom of the hill. In spite of its large size as the heaviest flying bird (males 8-16Kg, females 3.5-5kg), it was small in the distance and looked like a female (height 75-85cm).  A knowledgeable birder advised its ring number had been seen and that it was imported as an egg from Spain for the Great Bustard Group breeding program on Salisbury Plain and was 6 months old. I was able to see a close up of it through the same person’s scope. It spent some time preening itself in one spot.
  As I had parked on Bishopstone Road and had a good view of the church from the hill I decided to visit it. St. Andrew’s Church is a wonderful Saxon church whose origin is thought to be between the early 8th century to late 10th century. The informative booklet advises that Bishopstone is probably derived from old English ‘Biscop’ + ‘tun’ (Bishop’s estate), owned by the Bishops of Chichester. There is a Saxon sundial over the door with +EADRIC carved on it. The Bell Tower is Norman 12th C. built in Saxon style with 4 receding stages. The Nave is Saxon, the  north aisle and chancel added in the 12th C. The  font is 12th C. square bowl type. A fabulous church, open Wednesday and Saturday mornings so I was lucky to see the inside.
Great Bustard, Otis tarda, female
kale field

Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus

Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus

view of St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church

Norman Tower

Saxon sundial +EADRIC

Tower window

entrance to chancel



12th C. coffin slab


Saxon grave marker

1675 Tower window

12th C. font

1897 pulpit - St. Michael slaying the poor old dragon

Nave roof restored 1885

12th C. North Aisle


Saturday 2 November 2019

Ancient and modern finds from Wiltshire

Saxon strap end
I had an interesting day's metal detecting with Mid Week Searchers in Wiltshire on Thursday after passing Stonehenge on the way to the site:

1. Saxon strap end 47mm long 

2. Barbarous radiate, 3rd Century coin (22mm) 

3. Constantius II coin (13mm diameter) similar to "RIC VIII Antioch 49 var 337-341 AD"
    on Wildwinds site

4. Knee buckle - anchor chape Type V xv 18thC

5. pewter bowl  (squashed) 5cm long

6. lid of Roman seal box, late 1st to the mid 3rd Century AD. similar to:

7. Roman coin(?) with hole as pendant(?) 15mm diameter

8. broken handle of candle snuffer 18thC 

9. half of a crotal bell. The bottom half looks like it has been cut away rather than
Saxon strap end, 5cm

Strap ends were used to decorate and weigh down leather straps so they hung well. There are 2 rivet holes to attach to the strap. strap end often had zoomorphic decoration and two eyes can be seen with some bands on this one. It is made of a copper alloy.

barbarous radiate 22mm
Barbarous radiates are imitations of the antoninianus, a type of coin issued during the Roman Empire c.270-273 AD.
coin of Constantius II, 13mm
similar to "RIC VIII Antioch 49 var. 337-341 AD" on Wildwinds site 

knee buckle 18thC.
Knee buckle / anchor chape Type V xv

squashed bowl, 5cm
Possibly pewter, too light for lead. I have no idea what this is for or how old it is!

lid of roman seal box, 26mm
Seal boxes are believed to be used to protect wax seals. They often had holes in the lid and base. This is just the lid, copper alloy.

possibly a worn Roman coin used as a pendant
broken handle of candle snuffer, 18thC

half of a crotal bell
The bottom half of this animal bell looks like it has been cut away rather than broken.