The Big Dig starts this summer with Heritage Eastbourne solving Eastbourne’s Stone Age secrets at Butts Brow.

The excavation takes place this month and is organised by Heritage Eastbourne, as part of the Changing Chalk initiative, a National Lottery Heritage funded partnership featuring a series of projects.

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.

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

Visitors are welcome throughout the excavation and Heritage Eastbourne will be posting regular updates and 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 at 11am and on 23rd and 24th July, 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.

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. 

The walk leaves from Butts Brow Car Park, takes a leisurely stroll around the site of the Beehive Plantation Neolithic Enclosure, then travels along the ridge to the north-west to Combe Hill to see the remains of the Neolithic causewayed enclosure there.  Free tickets must be booked in advance.

There is also a free Downland Walk with Simon Hurt on Friday 29 July 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 & 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 who 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.

For further information on the archaeological dig please visit HeritageEastbourne.co.uk

Picture: Lee Roberts