Pre-historic artefacts, a sunken U-boat and WWII airfield are being revealed in a brand new exhibition in Eastbourne, after items were unearthed in a South Downs archaeological project, designed to recover 80 centuries of objects before they crumble into the sea.
The free ‘Living on the Edge’ exhibition by Heritage Eastbourne and the National Trust opens today (20 March) at The Pavilion, running until November, and shows a changing landscape throughout the last 8,000 years, from a Neolithic Stone Age enclosure at Belle Tout lighthouse to evidence of the notorious 1690 Battle of Beachy Head.
Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said, “The changing landscape of the Seven Sisters cliffs have seen much history from the first glimpse of Roman soldiers to the last memory of home by WW2 aircrews departing English shores.
“With some of this history literally crumbling into the sea, this has been a challenging project with the National Trust, and important in preserving these stories for the future.”
The exhibition, funded by the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign, also delves into the Downland’s more recent WWII history after Friston became an important aerodrome for British, Canadian and Polish crews with spitfires and hurricanes.
Victorian coastguards, who once patrolled the coast from Crowlink also feature along with 3D scans of a sunken U-boat which sank off the Seven Sisters coast in WW1.
The notorious Battle of Beachy Head is revealed from the Nine Year’s War in 1690 with recovered ammunition on show, while the exhibition travels further back to Stone Age times with the chance to discover how flint tools are made and see a Mesolithic pick and flint sickle on display.
Budding scientists can even get to grips with dating methods themselves by examining molluscs under a microscope, just one of the interactive activities on offer.
The exhibition is the result of excavations, interviews and painstaking research over the last few years at sites along the Seven Sisters coastline such as Beachy Head, Friston, Crowlink, Bailey’s Hill and a Mysterious hill top enclosure at Belle Tout.
Photo credit: Heritage Eastbourne