Lots of Good News!

Another hurdle has been cleared! Smiths Gore, who manage Brighton & Hove City Council’s farmland portfolio (including Castle Hill Nature Reserve), have obtained formal permission for me to go ahead with my excavation project.

There is now only one more permission to be obtained – namely that of being able to dig on a nature reserve of European significance. Luckily the reserve manager, Malcolm Emery, is dealing with this on my behalf. Because the site used to be a residence and farmyard, it is an area of high fertility (lots of poo and pee!), and therefore has become colonised by nettles and brambles. In the early 1950’s the area was bulldozed to make the site safe. This has very much reduced the biodiversity and ecological significance of this small corner of the reserve. Therefore further digging should not threaten the nature reserve’s conservation status in any way.

I have also started receiving offers of help from volunteers interested in being involved in an archaeological dig. This is excellent news! I need to decide on a fixed day once a month for volunteer days to be able to happen – sometime in March.

I was on site yesterday and it was good to see it again – without its earlier blanket of snow! I didn’t take any photos, but I did clean up a few fragments of wall that are visible – so it is now easier to show visitors the approximate ground plan.

The next clearance day may possibly be next Thursday – though this hasn’t been confirmed yet – it depends on the forecast, and whether Malcolm Emery has any higher priority jobs that need doing.

Yesterday was a very good day!

Welcome to Newmarket Hill – a South Down Blog!


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-east 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, farmyard and barns 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 British and Canadian troops stationed both locally and further afield in SE England.

Newmarket Farm location

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

Some Recommended Blog Entries

Some post-dig updates

Talks, related projects & research

Reports & book

David Cuthbertson: scienceinthegreen@gmail.com

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