Travels in Time

by Sarah Dobson History Archaeology Brighton Research Author - Matt Pope

Transport yourself back to the City’s past
- at the new Archaeology Gallery at Brighton Museum

The new permanent exhibition on the deep archaeological past of Brighton & Hove provides an exciting new hub through which to understand the ancient peoples and landscapes of the city and beyond.

WhiteHawk - Neolithic period

WhiteHawk - Neolithic period

The ‘Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery’ is a state-of-the-art display of key artefacts, sites and people from the landscape between the River Adur and River Ouse – our Biosphere area of ‘The Living Coast’ – and combines cutting-edge biological science with an evocative setting to bring you into close contact with archaeology from the Ice Age through to the Saxon period.

The impetus for re-establishing an exhibition at Brighton Museum had been largely driven by the advocacy of the Brighton and Hove Archaeology Society, who had been actively campaigning for over 20 years to see archaeology brought back at the heart of Brighton Museum. The exhibition was finally made possible by the generous donation from benefactor Elaine Evans, who has a long-standing passion for the past and for the city’s archaeology. Making it happen was then down to the hard work and commitment of curatorial and educational staff of the Royal Pavilion & Museums – Richard Le Saux, Andrew Maxted, Su Hepburn and Dan Robertson – who worked with experts from the wider archaeological community to deliver a glorious new focus for archaeology in city.

The most stunning aspects of the new exhibition are the vivid, life-like and characterful facial reconstructions of five individuals, each from a different time period, found in the Brighton & Hove landscape. In each case the talented archaeologist and facial reconstruction artist Oscar D. Nilsson combined understanding of the skeletal structure of each body with the scientific story the bones tell us about how these people lived, to bring the city’s ancient dead back to life!

Whitehawk Woman

Whitehawk Woman

These people represent only a fraction of the ancient burials recovered in the area, and were chosen due to the interesting aspects of their lives which could be revealed through archaeological research.

The exhibition is wonderful place to begin an exploration of Brighton and Hove’s archaeology and deep past whatever your age. An exhibit like this is one to re-visit and get to know.

Archaeology Gallery at Brighton Museum

The Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery at Brighton Museum

Hopefully curiosity will then drive you to try and visit some of the locations where the people and objects were found to find out, for example:

Hove Barrow reconstructionHove Barrow - artist reconstruction

Beyond the local outdoor landscape, both Brighton Library and the library of the Sussex Archaeological Society contain lots of books and articles providing detailed accounts of the discovery of these objects and the people behind them.

Going further you might even be inspired to join Brighton and Hove Archaeology Society and work on new discoveries in the field.

One of the most exciting things about the archaeology gallery is to think about what new objects, or ancient people, might be featuring in it in ten years’ time – watch this space!

Dr Matthew Pope FSA
Principal Research Associate, UCL Institute of Archaeology

All images (c) Royal Pavilion & Museums Brighton & Hove 2019

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