every Romano-British site so far investigated in the Sussex Weald
has been connected to the iron industry in some way. The significant reserves
of iron ore, already well tapped in the late Iron
Age, were now more intensively exploited, with a large number of iron
working sites such as Beauport Park and Broadfield. The usual practice
in early imperial times seems to have been for mineral extraction to be
placed in the hands of the official Roman state, so that the mineral-rich
regions of newly conquered territories would be made into imperial estates.
These were either governed directly by the Roman state, or in the case
of less valuable or less productive zones, by private entrepreneurs, who
would then pay royalties to the state.
is quite likely that the whole Weald became a Roman imperial estate, and
there are two distinct zones, perhaps representing the different administrative
systems. The richer area to the east contained large numbers of iron working
sites, mostly starting production from the mid 1st century AD. This early
date together with stamps of the Roman naval fleet ('Classis Britannica':See
found at sites such as Bodiam and Beauport Park, suggest direct imperial
control, with the products presumably transported by sea. Further to the
west, surrounding the major road systems to London and south, were another
group of iron working sites, with a generally more extended period of
use. These may well have been run by private organisations as franchise
operations from the state.