Legend of buried goldren treasure on South Downs

SOMEWHERE on the Downs a fabulous golden calf supposedly lies buried.

It’s the one that Aaron had made for the Iraelites, and you can find out all about it in the Bible.

Some people are pretty sure of its rough location, too - but to find out that you’ll have to read The Little Book of Sussex.

It’s another triumph for prolific Lewes writer David Arscott, delving into the county’s rich past to reveal a host of surprising and intriguing facts.

Learn about the unusual crimes and punishments, eccentric inhabitants and authentically bizarre pieces of historical trivia.

With chapters on folklore, geography, celebrity and much more, this fun- and fact-packed compendium will appeal to anyone interested in Sussex and her secrets.

The existence of fairies, for instance, is a strong part of country lore. These little creatures could make themselves useful if they liked you, but if your offended them they would cause you all sorts of trouble.

Sussex people called them ‘pharisees’, the confusion arising from what’s known to grammarians as ‘the reduplicated plural’ - once common in the county’s speech.

School teachers would attempt to drum the habit out of the children by getting them to recite a bit of nonsense verse:

I saw three ghosteses sitting on posteses,

Eating hot toasteses.

The butter ran down their fisteses,

Dirty little beasteses!

Then there’s the chilling sequel to a railway accident on June 6, 1851. A passenger train on the line between Brighton and Lewes jumped the rail and plunged over Newmarket Bridge, killing several people.

On the first anniversary of the tragedy, a local shepherd boy who had been accused of causing the accident by putting a sleeper on the line, but released for lack of evidence, was struck by lightning and killed at almost exactly the same spot.

David Arscott is a former journalist and BBC Radio producer and presenter who has written more than 40 books on the county.

The Little Book of Sussex, published by The History Press, is priced at £9.99 in hardback.