Finds and access at Black Patch, East Sussex

J. Williams

Classical and Archaeological Studies, University of Kent. Email:


A reconstruction and general plan of Hut Platform 4 and a'U' bugle sheep yard.

The arrangement of divided space dictates to some extent the activities that take place within the smaller spaces created by such division. Access analysis of Hut Platform 4 at the Bronze Age site at Black Patch, combined with study of the artefacts and ecofacts from the site, gives some insight into the relationship between the constructed spaces and the way they were used. The accessibility of places in which activities occur affects and is affected by the perceived status of these activities. The question of whether or not all of the huts and fences on the hut platform were contemporary has been the subject of some debate. This investigation attempts to establish which configurations of huts and fences fit most closely with the distribution of diagnostic artefacts and ecofacts across the spaces in which they were used. This is achieved by generating control and real relative asymmetry values from permeability maps of the spaces in a number of possible configurations, which are converted into visual form for comparison with the distribution of relevant finds.

In order to understand the use of space at the site it is important to consider it in an agrarian context; control of movement between spaces is necessary for certain aspects of livestock farming. A degree of flexibility in the permeability of boundaries allows this control to be exerted. Thus, the fences of Hut Platform 4 may have been erected for practical reasons, rather than to create psychological divisions between 'occupants' of the huts. Individual roundhouses were not necessarily thought of by their users in the same way as 'houses' are thought of today - the arrangement of structures at the site was perhaps less influenced by ideas about kinship than the original excavator supposed. A possible 'fence corridor' could have had a functional use, as similar arrangements of fences are used today for the control of livestock. Access analysis demonstrates the great range of possibilities for control of movement if all fences were contemporary.

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