New WWII Archaeology on the Downs?

Really excited that after a walk to Castle Hill nature reserve, on the side of Newmarket Hill, I may have found some new archaeology!

At TQ36470682, just above the edge of the steep sided Newmarket Bottom, was a spread of small (about 1cm diameter) pebbles associated with a 5m diameter roughly levelled off platform. It was sited just at the point of maximum visibility down into the valley bottom.

Apparently during the Second World War there was a particular concern that paratroopers would drop down into remote downland valleys at night. Therefore big lights were stationed at suitable positions to spot them.

I have as yet no idea what they looked like, but I have been informed there was one on the corner of the Falmer Road looking down into Bevendean valley.

I guess the next thing to do is to pass these details on to the East Sussex Historic Environment Record Officer (HER), who is based in Lewes.

Most of the Downs beyond Brighton were requisitioned by the armed forces during the last war. There should certainly be lots of archaeology dating to this time. Only since I started to study the history of Newmarket Farm have I become aware of the importance of modern archaeology, and how easily it can be lost.

Welcome to Newmarket Hill – a South Down Blog!

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Two hundred metres above the nearby English Channel, Newmarket Hill crowns that part of the South Downs which lies between the towns of Brighton to the west and Lewes to the east, and between the villages of Rottingdean to the south and Falmer to the north. It’s top is in the parish of Kingston near Lewes, the village of which is about a mile and half away. However, it is now only about a mile to the north of the relatively modern village of Woodingdean and a mile and a half to the north-west of the deserted medieval hamlet of Balsdean. Its south-eastern slopes form a part of Castle Hill National Nature Reserve which is a site of European importance. This blog is about the history and ecology of its surrounding downland.

Newmarket Farm by Douglas Holland

Newmarket Farm by Douglas Holland.

In April 2013 I managed – as a volunteer for Natural England – a community based excavation of the site of a 19th century farm labourer’s cottage and farmyard called Newmarket Farm, just inside Castle Hill NNR, near the summit of Newmarket Hill. It was built in 1830 and was the birth place of my mother in 1942, shortly before it was requisitioned for military training by the Canadian and other troops stationed in nearby Balsdean and the surrounding area.

Newmarket Farm location

Newmarket Farm location. Overlay of old and new O.S. maps and Google satellite images.

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Some post-dig updates

Talks, related projects & research

David Cuthbertson: scienceinthegreen@gmail.com

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