Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project gets cracking

Whitehawk project - meeting A group of archaeology fans met this week for the launch of the exciting new Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project.

The project will bring together archaeologists and local people as they aim to discover more about Brighton’s very first residents believed to have lived on an ancient settlement on Whitehawk Hill.

The site, older than Stonehenge, is a rare type of ritual monument – a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure dated at 5,500 years old and marks the beginning of Britain’s first farming communities.

The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be fascinating as it brings the study of history bang up to date using modern archaeology techniques, community involvement and social media.

While there will be archaeological site digs, a lot of the work involves the collection of objects excavated from the site in the 1920s and 1930s.

I popped along to the first meeting of museum staff with members of the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society.  A group of keen volunteers were there to find out what roles they will be taking on.

A lot of the work will involve packing and photographing each item in the stores. They will then be labelled and the image uploaded onto a website opening the collection up to the world.

The team of volunteers will be working at the museum working alongside Curator Collections co-ordinator Andy Maxted to learn these skills. It was clear the volunteers who all have a great interest and knowledge in archaeology are keen to get cracking with the work.

There was some discussion about availability. The volunteers will be juggling their projects with work, studies, grandparent duties and other commitments.  They’ll be starting the work next week, some will be involved with the packing and photographing of objects while others will input the data. There’s plenty of opportunity to learn new skills through the year.

Project leader and Senior Keeper Richard Le Saux said “This is going to be a really interesting project. This will not just be a formulaic, methodically plod through work. For example, there will be an intrinsic interest in seeing how people packed the objects 80 years ago. We’ll keep some of the packaging as that in itself will be a bit of social history. It’s going to be absorbing.“

There are lots of ways for people in Brighton and Hove to get involved or follow the project.

You can volunteer, follow the project on social media or come and meet the team at a series of events through the summer.

I’m going to be following the project through the summer and as an archaeology novice, I’m looking forward to learning a lot.




Caroline Sutton, Blogger in Residence

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