Log ladder from Bognor Regis

(Recovered by UCL South East Archaeology)

The log ladder is from the base of a waterhole from Oldlands Farm, Bognor Regis. The site had evidence for human activity from the Neolithic to the medieval period, with several prehistoric roundhouses and a Roman field system. The find of a ladder at the base of a waterhole is relatively common in places like East Anglia but there are few examples surviving from the south-east region. Only the base of the waterhole was waterlogged and the ladder would have been longer but the preservation conditions in the upper part of the feature were poor. This item was either used during the digging of the waterhole or to access the base of the feature to collect water when water levels were low.


The ladder was constructed from a single large bough or small trunk of oak (Quercus sp.) wood and dated to 1110-1000 cal BC. No bark was present, but the timber was substantially abraded and the bark is likely to have been lost post-depositionally rather than stripped. The timber was originally whole, but was broken into two sections during excavation. Although the two broken pieces do refit, point of refit is unclear as the timber is much degraded. The timber tapers from a maximum diameter of 180 mm at the lower end, to 95 mm in the upper portion. This tapering is the natural form of the wood, rather than related to any working of the timber. The recovered portion of the ladder is 1825 mm in length (the upper portion 1150 mm, and the lower 675 mm).