The Eastbourne Borough Council Museum Service was awarded a confirmed grant of £73,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) back in April for its exciting new project ‘Eastbourne Ancestors’ which will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The project is now fully underway and thanks to the grant there are some fascinating events going on over the next few months as part of the Eastbourne Ancestors project.
From 14 July to 12 August a community excavation will be taking place on land formerly known as Pococks on the Rodmill Estate, located between Burton Road and Kings Drive (near the DGH roundabout). The area was once the site of a building of apparent medieval origins, which was later subdivided and given the name Pococks Cottages. The dig will try to identify the origins of the buildings and establish whether this could have been the ‘Great House’ of the lost Manor of Radmeld-Bevington.
This professionally run excavation on an exciting medieval site in the heart of Eastbourne aims to discover a great deal about what life was like for the people of Medieval Eastbourne. Throughout the four week dig 80 volunteers will receive training in archaeological techniques and practices such as drawing, surveying and excavation from skilled archaeologists.
The community dig is so popular that most of the volunteer spaces are now oversubscribed, however Eastbourne Museum Services will happily allow visitors to the site whilst they are digging and guided tours of the site and archaeology will be available.
Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley said “I was delighted when Eastbourne Museum Service’s bid was successful because of all the fantastic and fascinating aspects and events that it had to offer for the community. There’s still so much to be discovered about our town and this is a great opportunity for us all to learn about our history via an exciting local project.”
A Medieval Life Open day at the site on Monday 30 July will allow people to meet the experts from Hands on History for free. From 10am till 4pm specialists will be demonstrating medieval weaponry, giving guided tours of the site and there will be armour and equipment for all the family to try on. Even the biggest kids will enjoy donning a great helm and get a knights-eye view of the world.
During the project schools, colleges and the public will be invited to a temporary lab, which will be set up in Eastbourne Town Hall, to take part in artefact conservation and environmental sampling processes alongside staff and volunteers.
These Eastbourne Ancestors Open Lab afternoons will be open from 1 till 4pm, every Tuesday and Thursday between 16 July and 10 August. The aim of the project is to learn what skeletons can tell us about how people in the past lived and died, so go along and see what the experts and keen team of volunteers are doing to rediscover the secrets of Eastbourne’s ancient ancestors.
As well as discovering more about the techniques used to tell the osteobiography or ‘Bone Story’ of the people who lived in Eastbourne you can also find out what life was like over 500 years ago in the town by examining the artefacts as they are discovered on the community dig in our Incident Room also in the Town Hall.
For more information about the Eastbourne Ancestors project go to www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk or contact Museum Services on 01323 415396 or at
if you wish to get to know your ancestors a little better.