Mark Tristan Cooper 073


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NLHG Newsletter Archive







December 2016













December 15th 2016Christmas Social 2.30 to 4.30 Some light hearted fun and games with food and drinks.

January 19th 2017The Crystal Palace by Ian Gledhill

February 16th 2017The Confederation of the Cinque Ports by Malcolm Pratt

March 16th 2017Martello Towers (& William Pitt the Younger) by Geoff Hutchinson

April 20th AGMLowther’s Lambs & the Mysteries of Cooden Camp by David Hatherell


A museum event: Wed, 7 December, 14:30 – 16:30 at St Augustines Hall, Cooden Drive Bexhill 'A Sussex Christmas' by Geoff Doel and Will Duke. Celebrate a traditional Sussex Christmas with Geoff Doel, co-author of 'Christmas Past in Sussex' and Will Duke, Sussex traditional singer. £4 per person, including refreshments.

Archaeology at Birling Gap























If you have been over to Birling Gap recently you might be aware that a project to map the area archaeologically of the area has been taking place over the last couple of years. There is a display in the National Trust Centre (the old café site) showing some of the work that has been going on. Mainly done by volunteers, the work is unearthing some interesting finds. Regular guided walks of the area are available to help visitors identify the earthworks as they appear today.

The outer earthworks on the slopes of Belle Tout are thought to date from around 3,000 BC. The outer ditch here encloses an area of 20 hectares. This may have been circular originally rather than ending at the cliffs because at that time the coast would have been about a quarter of a mile away. Most of the Downs would have been forest at this time and there is evidence of flint tool making here. Remains from the Beaker People including highly decorated beer beakers and stone wrist guards have been found. Burial mounds (Barrows) have been identified which are typical of this period in history. The dead may have been laid to rest under the raised mounds to be a highly visible reminder of the ancestors.

As the need for more farm land grew the forest was gradually cleared. There is evidence of an Iron Age hill top fort at Belle Tout and there is plenty of evidence that the whole area was intensively farmed from then on through the medieval period. The name Belle Tout is thought to stem from the Celtic name Bael’s Lookout.

In the 1970s a cliff collapse revealed a vertical shaft at least 40M deep. This is now believed to be remains of a refuge built for shipwrecked sailors by Jonathan Darby, Parson of Friston and East Dean. He was appalled by the loss of life resulting from the frequent wrecks and he built this refuge and set lights on the cliffs on stormy nights.




























Birling Gap circa 1920?

No motor vehicles in sight only horses. The power lines look new. Note the highly productive vegetable gardens behind the cottages.



The degree of erosion that has taken place since this photo was taken is enormous.



Group Contacts:

Rod Ffoulkes (Chair)  Tel: 893635, Janice Wood (Secretary) & Martin Wood (Treasurer) Tel: 892895,   Corinne Gibbons (Membership) Tel: 892612, Jan Cooper (Archivist)  Tel: 893381, Liz Darbyshire Tel: 893575, Janet Savage Tel: 892749, John Cheshire (Newsletter)  Tel: 892248.                  

Birling Gap Birling Gap 2