Sussex Archaeological Society is a registered charity which receives no funding from government, national or local, and yet manages to maintain six historic properties and open them to the public and support a range of research into the archaeology and history of Sussex.
The Society was formed in 1846 when the digging of a new railway line to the south of the town revealed the remains of Lewes Priory, founded by WIlliam de Warenne and his wife, Gundrada. William also built Lewes Castle under the aegis of William the Conqueror following the Battle of Hastings. The Society was founded as and remains a membership organisation, run by some paid staff but governed by a Council of Trustees who all belong to the Society and donate their time and expertise.
The Society is exceptional among county archaeological societies in England in owning a diverse range of historic properties. The collections at each are varied and further study can be supported by contacting the property direct.
Membership currently stands at 2500, and we are always happy to welcome new members. Our different membership types are available to support the different interests you may have – for example, our family membership options allow you to take the children to any of our properties, where they will find opportunites to dress up, explore the past and more. Your membership gives free entry even on special event days, which in the school holidays frequently focus on family activities. See the events listing on the home page for details of what is coming up in the next few months.
Once you have joined the Society, there is no onus on you to get involved although of course we would welcome it if you wish to take a more active part. Our volunteers are integral to the Society’s continued existence and support our work in many different ways – for more information, click here.
Despite the name, we don’t just concentrate on archaeology. The Society’s remit also includes local history, and our reference Library at Barbican House in Lewes is a leading resource for local historians. The range of events we organise for our members (although non-members are welcome too) covers guided walks, talks and conferences. Recent events have included:
- a guided visit to Butser Ancient Farm
- a guided tour of Farley Farm House, home of the Surrealist photographer Lee Miller and painter Roland Penrose
- a talk on Sussex folklore
- a Magic Lantern evening, which included many lantern slides from our own Collections not previously show to the public
- a guided walk around the megalithic rock shelters of Chiddingly Woods, not usually accessible to the public
- a hands-on workshop examing pottery after the Roman era
- a walk around Chanctonbury Ring
New ideas are always welcome, and many of these events are run by fellow members who wish to share their current research or just their enthusiasm for a particular site!