Archaeological dig at Eastbourne’s Carpet Gardens

Archaeologists believe the Eastbourne site could be on a par with Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex, above
Archaeologists believe the Eastbourne site could be on a par with Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex, above

Eastbourne seafront’s Carpet Gardens will be undergoing an excavation from Monday, October 17, in a search for remains of a Roman villa which could uncover information about area during the early years of the Roman conquest of Britain.

More than 200 years ago the remains of a huge Roman building were discovered during building works to Eastbourne’s rapidly developing seafront.

It was last seen in 1879 when works were undertaken in Grand Parade near the pier but all of this evidence was either reburied or destroyed by the Victorian builders.

However, a geophysics survey earlier in the year showed that there may still be remains to be discovered in the Carpet Gardens that now cover the site.

The dig is taking place during a planned phase of replanting in the Carpet Gardens to ensure minimum disturbance and is extremely important as it could provide sought-after answers about Eastbourne’s Roman heritage.

Based on material recovered in the 19th century, archaeologists believe the site could be on par with Fishbourne Roman Palace and Pulborough’s Roman villa, and possibly even the home of a ‘Client King’, who may have joined forces with the Romans when they invaded in AD43.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise Cllr Margaret Bannister said, “The archaeological dig is an extremely interesting event for our understanding of history. As we have seen from ‘Eastbourne’s Bronze Age Mystery: Making Tracks’ exhibition, it is very likely that Eastbourne was once inhabited by some very important people. If this archaeological dig is successful, the results could tell us more about Eastbourne’s fascinating heritage.”

Archaeologist Dr Miles Russell, who has regularly appeared on television’s ‘Time Team’, will be making an appearance as the Eastbourne Heritage team is joined by Bournemouth University students and volunteers in this exciting dig. Due to the Carpet Gardens’ location on Eastbourne seafront, the public will be able to come down and see the progress for themselves.

The archaeological dig is estimated to last for approximately four days.

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