As a volunteer at the Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums, I have been fortunate enough to participate in the review of its archaeological collections, which has been taking place over the past eighteen months.
The collections themselves derive from the hard work of individual local collectors to those donated by the collectors/philanthropists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Other more recent sources of deposit are from professional units and local societies, commonly as a result of planning developments or research projects. The collections are of local, national and even international importance.
However, what has struck me most is the depth of our local history. It’s easy to think of Brighton in terms of its Regency past, but having participated in the review, it’s obvious how important Brighton and its area was. Especially in terms of its Prehistory – Neolithic Whitehawk, Iron Age Hollingbury and a number of important Bronze Age sites and hoards. Even the Palaeolithic is well represented, not only because of surface finds of flint handaxes but also by the finds extracted from the ‘Elephant Beds’ of Black Rock and the ancient raised beach deposits which extend below parts of Brighton.
Now that we are beginning to understand and register the importance of these collections, the next step will be to try and gauge their significance to the local communities and decide how best to make them available to those communities.
Lack of money and space are obviously going to be major issues to overcome but the process of sharing the information gained from the review with the local community will I hope engender a real sense of pride in our mutual history.
Andy, Volunteer Local History & Archaeology