New Archaeology Gallery reveals fascinating lives of earliest Sussex residents

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Opening of the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Press preview – Thursday 24 January 2019 at 10.30am  RSVP


Opens to public on Saturday 26 January 2019

For immediate release

Get up close and personal with some of the earliest residents of Sussex at the new and exciting archaeology gallery opening at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in January.

Discover the compelling story of our ancestors who lived in Brighton & Hove through the centuries from the Ice Age to the Saxons.

At the heart of the exhibition will be seven forensically accurate 3D facial reconstructions revealing the faces of people, some of whose remains were found in and around Brighton & Hove.

Using modern scientific technology, research into the lives of these people has discovered a wealth of mystery, drama and tragedy through childbirth, malnutrition, toothache and possibly murder. Now you can see what they looked like and learn their real-life stories.

The brand-new gallery in the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, part of Brighton & Hove City Council has been designed to appeal to families and children as well as students and people interested in archaeology and history.

Named after its major benefactor, The Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery opens to the public on January 26 2019.

This is the first new gallery devoted to ancient history in Brighton & Hove for over 20 years following a public petition from the Brighton & Hove Archaeology Society.  One of their members, Brighton & Hove resident Elaine Evans BEM has kindly donated a substantial grant to the museum to enable the gallery to be created.

Elaine Evans said; “For many years history and archaeology have fascinated me. One marvellous day I spotted a Stone Age flint blade by chance in my back garden in Hove, brought to the surface by worms.  I was the first person to hold it since it was dropped by a hunter-gatherer thousands of years ago: the blade was still sharp.

“I ran a school of English for 27 years and education is so important to me. It’s wonderful that the museum will bring history alive to visitors young and old.”

Other highlights include:

  • Enjoy a birds eye view of the Sussex coastline showing how it has changed over the last 250,000 years
  • Listen to the ambient sounds of our prehistoric ancestors at work
  • View films of scientific experts revealing their historical research into the area and its inhabitants
  • See images of reconstructed ancient places in Brighton & Hove like Neolithic Whitehawk and Iron Age Hollingbury Hill Fort
  • Rediscover our major objects including the unique Bronze Age Amber Cup, the Woodingdean stag statuette and the mysterious Sussex loops
  • Follow the story of time-traveller Elva as she journeys through the centuries in a specially commissioned set of children’s stories by local children’s author Imogen White and local artist Jennifer Khatun
  • Study archaeological finds from across Sussex which have not been on public display for over 20 years

Councillor Alan Robins, Chair of Brighton & Hove’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee said; “Recent years have seen strong local support for the development of a gallery to showcase the city and region’s rich archaeological collections, particularly since the introduction of prehistory to the national curriculum in 2014.

“Therefore we are delighted we are able to open this fantastic new archaeology addition to our popular museum thanks to the generous support of Elaine Evans.”

Dr David Rudling, President of the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society added; “After years of campaigning for a return of a gallery to display some of the very rich archaeological heritage of the Brighton area, our society is pleased this has happened.”

Notes for editors 

About Elaine Evans BEM

Elaine Evans received the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2014 for services to the arts in East Sussex.
Elaine was originally born in Middlesex but moved to Hove when she was 11.  She started the East Sussex School of English, a summer school for teenagers in Hove, in 1972 and ran it for 27 happy years.  She has been interested in the arts, history and languages since childhood.
Elaine is a committee member of Hove Civic Society, supports the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus and sits on the Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel.  She is a member of the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society and was a founding member of the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation patrons’ scheme in 2009. Over the years Elaine has written articles on local history and archaeology and interviewed historians, academics and architects to capture and share their stories and expertise.  Elaine is the British Patron of Vilamuseu, an award-winning museum in Villajoyosa, near Alicante, Spain.
She said, “For many years history and archaeology have fascinated me.  One marvellous day I spotted a Stone Age flint blade by chance in my back garden in Hove.  It had been brought to the surface by worms.  I was the first person to hold it since it was dropped by a hunter-gatherer thousands of years ago: the blade was still sharp.   I love my precious flint!”
Elaine wrote several stories as a child.  One, when she was 9, was about three children who found a treasure hoard. ‘Thanks to you,” said their father, “the collection is being sent to the museum.’
“Who would have guessed that many years later I myself would be so closely involved with Brighton Museum?
“My late husband Steve and I used to enjoy visiting historic houses and sites such as stone circles and Roman villas.  We helped out on an archaeological dig in the 80s in a car park in Dorchester – Steve found a Roman tunic fastening and two coins.
“I’ve been involved with Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society for years and helped collect signatures for their petition to the council asking for a new gallery.  When we got the go-ahead, the sad thing was that there was no money available from the council.  I was leaving a sum to the museum in my will, but decided it would be much better to give it to them now for the new gallery.
“I’m not wealthy but I wanted to do what I could for a project which will bring so much interest and education to so many people.  It’s wonderful that the museum will bring history alive to visitors young and old.”
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and the Brighton & Hove Archaeology Society are holding a private opening of the gallery for Elaine on Friday 25 January 2019.#

About the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society

BHAS are an amateur archaeological society based in the Brighton and Hove area inaugurated in 1906.

They aim to promote the study of archaeology and local history and to ensure the proper recording and preservation of local antiquities and relics.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, part of Brighton & Hove City Council, is located in the Royal Pavilion garden, at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter. Its diverse collections bring together the arts and history to tell stories about the city and the world we live in.

Admission charge payable, Members free
Twitter: @BrightonMuseums

For further information or interviews please contact Caroline Sutton on caroline.sutton@brighton-hove.gov.uk or + 44 (0)1273 296718.  Please note that I work Mon – Thurs – for urgent enquiries in my absence please contact museums.marketing@brighton-hove.gov.uk or 03000 290906.