Eastbourne excavation to begin next week

An excavation at Butts Brow in Eastbourne is set to begin next week.

The ‘big dig’ is organised by Heritage Eastbourne as part of the Changing Chalk initiative, a National Lottery Heritage-funded partnership featuring a series of projects.

A Visit Eastbourne spokesperson said, “Very little of the Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Butts Brow has been excavated, so between 16 and 31 July a team of archaeologists will be uncovering more of this rare monument using the latest scientific and technological techniques to tell the stories of people on the downland, hidden for 5,000 years.

“Previous excavations at the site uncovered the early Neolithic enclosure and it was dated by pottery deposited in the ditches to around 3,600 BCE.”

Butts Brow in Eastbourne. Picture from Visit Eastbourne and Lee Roberts

Evidence was also found to show the area may have been used by troops during the Second World War, according to the spokesperson.

Visitors are welcome throughout the excavation and Heritage Eastbourne will be live-streaming from the site to its social media channels, as well as running a series of tours.

Daily tours will run at the site from 11am and on July 23 and 24 visitors will be able to find out more about prehistoric life with craft activities, prehistoric food and flint knapping – all potential activities that took place on the site.

The spokesperson said, “There are also two free archaeology guided walks from Butts Brow to Combe Hill on Friday 22 July from 2-3pm and Saturday 30 July from 2-3pm.

"Walkers will be able to examine the mysteries of two Stone Age monuments from Butts Brow to Combe Hill during the walk led by archaeologist Steve Patton.”

There is also a free downland walk with Simon Hurt on Friday, July 29, from 10am-12.30pm.

Walkers will hear local downland stories, uncover how the downland has changed and how it continues to change in these present times.

Bookings must be made in advance.

Eastbourne Borough Council’s lead member for tourism and culture Councillor Margaret Bannister said: “Archaeological digs are always so exciting, and I know the Heritage Eastbourne team members are really looking forward to this summer’s excavation at Butts Brow.

“An important development in uncovering our local history, the ‘big dig’ is a continuation of the work which Heritage Eastbourne began back in 2016 investigating an intriguing earthwork at Butts Brow.

“The earthwork was created in the distant Neolithic era, around 5,000-6,000 years ago, when our ancestors were slowly starting to adopt a more settled lifestyle, beginning to farm, and clearing the Downs of trees.

“It’s clear there is more digging to be done and we can’t wait to find out what the team discovers.”

Changing Chalk is a partnership connecting nature, people and heritage on and around the South Downs and Eastbourne Borough Council are one of 10 partners that will deliver a series of projects.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by the National Trust, it aims to restore lost landscapes and habitats, bring history and cultures to life and provide new experiences in the outdoors.