New Lewes Castle exhibition celebrates 175 years of the Sussex Archaeological Society

The Sussex Archaeological Society will celebrate 175 years of protecting and sharing the county’s rich history with a new exhibition at Lewes Castle.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 3:58 pm
Lewes Castle

The exhibition will bring to life the stories of everyday people, sailors, prisoners and even one of America’s founding fathers through paintings, artefacts, and possibly the country’s oldest citrus fruits,

It will run at the Barbican House Museum at Lewes Castle until 30 September.

The Sussex Archaeological Society is a charity which cares for an extensive collection of over one million artefacts as well as the eight Sussex Past heritage sites, including Lewes Castle & Museum.

The diverse objects on display are all deeply linked to the county, shining a light on thousands of years of Sussex stories.

The oldest item is the fossilised footprint of an iguanodon, a dinosaur which stalked Europe in the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods.

Gideon Mantell, the palaeontologist who discovered the species, was born in Lewes.

Travelling in time to the Bronze Age, c.1400 – 1240 BC, visitors will see one of Sussex’s most exciting archaeological discoveries of the last 50 years, a Middle Bronze Age Hoard complete with five Sussex Loops, a type of armband unique to the Brighton and Lewes area and usually only found in pairs.

A witch’s bottle dating to around 1560-1570, found in Michelham Priory House & Gardens, which is also cared for by the Society, contains the remnants of a wax effigy, offering a chance to learn about the superstitions of Sussex’s past communities.

One 17th century curiosity tells the story of an unlucky maid in Lewes who was accused of stealing a silver spoon.

Years later, builders found the missing spoon in a rat’s nest – along with a mummified rat – and both items have been kept as a memorial to the girl.

Emma O’Connor, Museums Officer, said: “We have been collecting and celebrating Sussex’s heritage for 175 years, creating opportunities for research and unlocking the past.

“The objects on display make memories of Sussex’s past tangible for our visitors; the exhibition is all about people, with both personal and collective stories to discover.”

Andrew Edwards, chief executive of the Sussex Archaeological Society, said: “After what has been a tough year for attractions and heritage organisations, we are excited to invite the public to explore our fantastic collection.

“The story of the Society is the story of our county, so this is all about celebrating 175 years of collecting and celebrating Sussex and looking to the future.”

Tom Holland, Author and historian, added: “How wonderful it is that in a county as rich in history as Sussex even the archaeological society – an absolute model of how to preserve and cherish the legacy of the past – should be 175 years old.

“Now is the perfect opportunity to help it flourish for at least another 175 years.”

Entry to the exhibition is included in general admission prices to the castle and free of charge to Sussex Archaeological Society members.

Booking in advance is not required.