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South Downs Archaeological Dig Gets Underway to Uncover Possible Prehistoric Site

26 July 2016

Archaeologists from Heritage Eastbourne begin their excavation this week to uncover a possible prehistoric or medieval earthworks site on the edge of the South Downs National Park.

Beehive Plantation

The downland dig on the outskirts of Eastbourne will determine the age of the mysterious mound, as well as investigating a possible ancient burial site nearby.

Located just above Willington at Butts Brow, the site known as the ‘Beehive Plantation’ previously belonged to the Ratton Estate and this is the first time it has ever been investigated, making it of prime significance.

Archaeological enthusiasts and walkers can explore the site on a daily tour or join in a guided Landscape Walk on 6 August to discover more archaeological stories, treasures and scenic sites.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said “We’re really excited to see what we find here. The location and shape do hint at prehistoric or medieval origin, although there is a possibility we could simply unearth some 18th Century landscaping of the Ratton Estate. The results are usually fascinating and quite often drive our future exhibitions and outreach work in local schools.”

The partially visible ‘earthwork enclosure’, which is a term used to describe artificial changes in land level, is most often made by masses of artificially places or sculpted rocks and soil. The results of the dig will determine the future management of what could potentially be a historic monument.

The project runs from 27 July until 9 August from 9am to 5pm each day, with free daily tours at 10am and 2pm (no booking required).

East Sussex County Council Archaeologist, Greg Chuter, will also lead a free guided walk on Saturday 6th August at 2.15pm from Butts Brow to Coombe Hill, exploring the archaeology of the area and understanding the bigger picture around the excavation. To book, email or call 07415 208458.

Keen historians can also monitor the dig via the daily site diary updated each evening on the Heritage Eastbourne Faceboook page, along with a timelapse video available at the end of the dig.

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