Search for Bronze Age settlement at Belle Tout near Eastbourne

A National Trust team began an important archaeological dig on Tuesday at Belle Tout (on top of the Seven Sisters cliffs, near Beachy Head, Eastbourne) and will be excavating trenches close to the cliff edge until the 21st September.

If you fancy a trip down there whilst the weather is still good, then members of the public are being invited to take part in free daily tours of the site.

You'll get to see the archaeologists at work in the trenches and also examine what they find; all in all, a great opportunity to learn more about this fascinating, historic site.

Working alongside experts and professional archaeologists is a team of around 2 dozen volunteers who will be combing the site every day for new insights and discoveries.

Safety is paramount and they'll only be studying areas that are at least 10 metres from the edge of the cliff face.

The archaeologists and volunteers working at Belle Tout are hoping to discover more about the mystery behind one of the country's most important Prehistoric monuments.

Time is running out for them though as it's thought that parts of the site may soon fall into the sea due to the natural erosion that takes place at the Seven Sisters cliffs.

What are they looking for?

The team of archaeologists are hoping to find evidence of an early Bronze Age settlement complete with prehistoric monuments at the dig site which is located close to the lighthouse and cafe.

There is already a large outer earthwork which is nearly a mile in length but the team are still unsure of the date when the hilltop enclosure was built. There have have been previous discoveries but these are from different eras and include prehistoric flintwork and early pottery from the Bronze Age.

National Trust Archaeologist Tom Dommett who is working at the site has said:

"This is the gold standard in terms of archaeology research - and rightly so - as conceivably it will be the last chance to undertake this work before the areas are gone due to coastal erosion. We have worked closely with Historic England and with Natural England to enable this important project to take place in such a sensitive area and are hugely grateful to our team of volunteers.

Modern technology will be at the sharp end of the current investigation as new scientific techniques will be used - These include LiDAR laser scanning, environmental sampling, Optical Stimulated Luminescence (which measures the last time an object was exposed to light) and the analysis of microscopic snails, which only exist in certain habitats.

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