In 1988 an area of 12,000 m2 in Quarry 2 at Boxgrove, West Sussex, was identified as being under threat front gravel and sand extraction. It was decided to sample the threatened area in 1989 with a series of 6 m2 test pits. The results of this survey identified two areas that merited further investigation, and area excavations were carried out at Quarry 2/C and Quarry 2/D in 1990 and 1991 respectively. These concentrated on the main Pleistocene landsurface (Unit 4c) and revealed spreads of knapping debris associated with the production of flint handaxes. Two test pits and area Q2/C produced handaxes, over 90% of which had tranchet sharpening at the distal end. A small amount of core reduction and only a few flake tools were found: these were all from Quarry 2/C. Faunal remains were located in the northern part of the excavations where Unit 4c had a calcareous cover. In Quarry 2/C the bones of C. elaphus and Bison sp. exhibited traces of human modification.
The project employed two methods of artefact retrieval: direct excavation in metre squares and bulk sieving of units within them. Comparison of the results from these methods suggests that, when on-site time is limited, the integration of these methods is a valid technique in both qualitative and quantitative terms for data recovery. The excavated areas are interpreted as a tool-sharpening and butchery site that may have been a fixed and known locale in the landscape (Q2/C), and a location on the periphery of an area of intensive knapping reduction (Q2/D). Sedimentological and microfaunal analyses demonstrate that Unit 4c was formed as a soil in the top of a marine-lagoonal silt, the pedogenic processes being similar to those observed after draining Dutch polder lakes. The palaeoenvironment is interpreted as an area of open grassland with some shrub and bush vegetation. In places the surface of the soil supported small ephemeral pools and flashes. This area of grassland is seen as a corridor for herds of ungulates moving east and west between the sea to the south and the relict cliff and wooded downland block to the north. Within this corridor these herds were preyed upon by various carnivores, and hominids.
The temperate sediments at Boxgrove were deposited in the later part of the Cromerian Complex and immediately pre-date the Anglian Cold Stage; they are therefore around 500,000 years old. The archaeological material from these and overlying cold stage deposits is broadly contemporary with that at High Lodge, Suffolk and Waverley Wood, Warwickshire.