Bishopstone Valley Archaeological Research Project
Above is a view of the parish church of St Andrew’s, Bishopstone, showing the south porch, one of the original porticus of the pre-Conquest church which was has been punched through by a Norman doorway. Above the Norman door is a sun-dial inscribed with the name ‘EADRIC’, one of the features taken to be indicative of a pre-Viking date.
BVARP was launched by the Sussex Archaeological Society in 2002 to investigate past settlement and land use within a block of Downland on the coast of East Sussex centred upon the village of Bishopstone, near to the town and former medieval Cinque Port of Seaford.
With the help of a team of specialists, based both locally and at university departments outside Sussex, a range of research tools and fieldwork techniques has been harnessed to explore themes central to the evolution of the Bishopstone landscape (for more information on the rationale and methodology of the project please refer to the project design).
One of the project’s major objectives, to be met by a rolling programme of fieldwork and targeted excavations between 2002 and 2005 was to establish the origins of present-day valley-slope settlement pattern and its relationship to an earlier phase of hilltop sites fringing the valley, including the important multi-period settlement on Rookery Hill (see Bell, M., 1977. ‘Excavations at Bishopstone’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, 115).
In addition, two defined research themes with a major bearing upon the nature of past settlement and subsistence have been identified for detailed study. The first involves the exploration of the archaeology of the parish church of St Andrew’s as a follow up to recent documentary and topographical research which has provided a secure historical context for a church building long recognised as an architectural gem of the pre-Conquest period. The second theme was to involve an extensive programme of palaeoenvironmental sampling and analysis in order to explore the geomorphological history of the valley, which has at various periods during the past existed as a drowned tidal inlet, estuarine saltmarsh and reclaimed alluvium prior to its permanent reclamation during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Excavations at the site concluded in 2005 and the project has now entered the post-excavation analysis stage. Please use the links below for further information.