Four-day quest to find Roman villa remains in Eastbourne

Eastbourne's Carpet Gardens ... are they hiding a secret from history? Photograph by Angie Parsons
Eastbourne's Carpet Gardens ... are they hiding a secret from history? Photograph by Angie Parsons

Excavation work is due to begin at 9am on Monday (October 17) at the Carpet Gardens on Eastbourne seafront.

The Heritage Eastbourne team will be searching for remains of a Roman villa - which might rival the famed Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex.

The quest to discover more about Eastbourne during the early years of the Roman conquest of Britain following the invasion of AD43 is expected to last four days, with digging continuing until approximately 4.30pm.

Due to the seafront location, members of the public will be able to go along and watch the progress for themselves.

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 found in the Carpet Gardens that now cover the site.

Students from Bournemouth University will be joining the Heritage Eastbourne team and there will be an appearance by archaeologist Dr Miles Russell, who has regularly appeared on television’s Time Team.

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 and Pulborough’s Roman villa.

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