Eastbourne residents encouraged to unearth hidden history of the town

Eastbourne residents are being urged to get involved in a new ‘community archaeology’ scheme.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 11:20 am

The National Trust will link with Eastbourne Borough Council to launch the ‘big dig’, a project that hopes to reveal ‘forgotten stories’ through research and archaeology in the town.

The scheme, which is planned to take place in Motcombe Gardens, hopes to ‘unearth hidden history’ and ‘uncover the heritage of the area’.

The ‘big dig’, which encourages residents to get ‘hands-on’ with the town’s history, is taking place as part of Changing Chalk.

The view over Eastbourne seafront SUS-210519-151342001

Changing Chalk is being supported by a £2.23 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant as the project hopes to ‘connect nature, people and heritage’ across the eastern South Downs.

The series of projects also aims to reverse the 80 per cent decline in the rare chalk grassland of the Downs, according to a National Trust spokesperson.

Changing Chalk is set to work with local communities, farmers and landowners as part of the scheme.

The grant is also set to create a series of jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities in Eastbourne, Lewes and Brighton.

A National Trust spokesperson said, “The South Downs have been shaped by human intervention throughout their history. The species-rich chalk grassland has its origins 6,000 years ago when people first began to settle.

“Traditional chalk downland farming patterns have shaped the landscape and farming continues to dominate the area today.

“Sitting beneath this visual legacy, the landscape is scattered with remnants of ironworks, burial mounds, ancient settlements, forts and farmsteads evidencing human history from stone age to the Second World War.”

Eastbourne Borough Council’s lead member for tourism and culture Margaret Bannister said, “The Downs and towns have a long, shared history, with people through the centuries relying on the landscape for their existence and later for their wealth. Yet many of today’s communities are unaware of the unique story lying under the land they walk on every day.”