Archaeological Excavation in Eastbourne

The Big Dig Test Pit – Credit Lee Roberts

Archaeologists are preparing to explore the Bourne settlement and stream in Eastbourne later this month, as part of the Big Dig project.

From Monday 26 February to Saturday 2 March a team will be excavating archaeological test pits in Manor Gardens in Borough Lane and in the Parsonage of St Mary’s Church in Old Town.

The excavation is being carried by Heritage Eastbourne in partnership with the Blue Heart Project, an organisation which looks at innovative ways to predict and mitigate the impacts of flooding in Eastbourne and southern Wealden.

Archaeologists believe that from the 13th century there were buildings in the Manor Gardens and Parsonage areas that were only cleared during the creation of Manor Gardens in the mid-18th century.

The team is hoping the test pits will indicate whether any trace of these buildings, gardens or the wells that served them still survive beneath the ground.

Visitors can attend the excavation in Manor Gardens on Monday and Tuesday 26 and 27 February between 10am-4pm and at The Parsonage from Monday 26 February – Saturday 2 March from 10am-4pm.

There will also be an Open Day at St Mary’s Parsonage on Saturday 2 March where visitors can find out more about the archaeology and history of the area and the work the projects are doing.

Councillor Margaret Bannister, Eastbourne Borough Council’s Lead Member for Tourism, Leisure, Accessibility & Community Safety, said, “This is yet another exciting project looking at our rich heritage in this part of Eastbourne.

“It will be wonderful to see exactly what the archaeologists discover, and I am sure visitors that pop along to the excavation will benefit from finding out about the history of the area.”

The Big Dig is run by Eastbourne Borough Council and is part of the Changing Chalk Partnership. The Big Dig aims to uncover the development of a downland settlement from a small farming community to a thriving conurbation through community test-pitting across the town of Eastbourne.

Led by the National Trust, Changing Chalk is a multi-partner project connecting people, nature and heritage in the eastern South Downs. It is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players. Together we are working towards creating a sustainable future – restoring lost habitats, bringing histories to life, and providing new experiences in the outdoors. For more information visit

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