‘Geophysical’ survey of Preston Park to begin early November

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Brighton Museum, the University of Brighton and Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society have joined forces to carry out a ‘geophysical survey’ of Preston Park over the next couple of months, beginning at the start of November.

Brighton & Hove has a rich and complicated history that goes back thousands of years, into the Stone Age. The survey, which is supported by the Friends of Preston Park, aims to look beneath the surface of the Park to find signs of archaeological activity.

Preston Park is situated in a valley bottom which has long been a natural communication route (the modern London Road follows the same route).  The area around the park has links back to the medieval village and manor of Preston, and before that there are signs of occupation during the Romano-British period – with the foundations of a Roman villa being uncovered in the Springfield Road area as early as 1876.

Brighton Museum’s Archaeology Curator, Andy Maxted, said: “Taking into account the numerous prehistoric stone tools found in the area, and the location of a Saxon cemetery on the ridge overlooking the Park, we hope that our survey will produce some interesting results.  Undeveloped green spaces like this within the city’s boundaries could give us a window into its intriguing past.

“We hope to undertake a number of surveys like this over the next few years, so if you see us out with our survey equipment do come and say hello – and see what we have discovered!”

Dr Jaime Kaminski, from the University’s School of the Environment and Technology, said there will be no excavation in the park. “Instead we will be using two geophysical survey techniques to assess what lies beneath the surface of the soil: magnetometry, which allows us to scan large areas quickly, and resistivity, where a device passes a small electrical current through the earth and measures relative differences in resistance.”  (More information on these methods is available on request).

The results of the Preston Park survey will be released next May, at an event to be held in the Park and at Preston Manor over the May Bank Holiday.