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Archaeological excavation at Motcombe Gardens to get underway after funding boost

L-R Jo Seaman (Eastbourne Borough Council), Councillor Jonathan Dow and Chris Searle (Friends of Motcombe Gardens)

Another community archaeological excavation is taking place at the Dovecote in Motcombe Gardens, Eastbourne, thanks to funding support from various sources, including local ward councillors, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Council for British Archaeology South East.

The dig will build on last year’s work to find out the date the Dovecote was built and to gain a better understanding of the farmyard it once stood in. A number of archaeological features relating to the site were revealed in 2018, including two water troughs and a number of walls that relate to the mid-late 19th century Motcombe Farm. These will be re-excavated along with other structures beneath.

The project was developed by the Friends of Motcombe Gardens in partnership with Jo Seaman from Eastbourne Borough Council’s heritage department and local councillors. Input has also been welcomed from local schools, volunteers and interest groups. 

Old Town councillors Jonathan Dow, Peter Diplock and Amanda Morris are supporting the excavation by giving a grant of £4,000 from the devolved budget, which is a fund set aside to help community causes. The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s grant of £9,900 is made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. In addition, The Council for British Archaeology South East has promised at least £1,000.

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the project or sharing their historical stories is encouraged to go to the Dovecote and see the team in action between 10am and 4pm from Monday, July 15, until Sunday, July 28. Project volunteers are welcome as long as they sign up in advance. A highlight of the dig will be on Friday July 19 when some of the project sponsors and local MP Stephen Lloyd will be visiting between 10am and 11am. 

Councillor Dow said: “The Dovecote in Motcombe Gardens is such an interesting part of our town’s history and we were pleased to be able to help fund the next phase through the devolved budget. I look forward to seeing what this month’s dig can tell us about our past.”

Chris Searle, Chair of the Friends of Motcombe Gardens, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by support from the local community, Eastbourne Borough Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, John Jackson Charitable Trust, Heritage Eastbourne, Brewers, Eastbourne Natural Historical & Archaeological Society and the Council for British Archaeology South East. Our intention is to landscape the area and leave some archaeology exposed for future generations to have a window on their collective past.” 

If you would like to volunteer, please visit the Eastbourne Heritage website, or to donate to the project, email cj.searle@talktalk.net 

Published on 9 July, 2019