1. How old is the Sussex Archaeological Society?
In 1846, when digging a new railway line to the south of the town, the remains of Lewes Priory, founded by William de Warenne and his wife, Gundrada, were uncovered. This astonishing discovery led to the founding of the Sussex Archaeological Society, which has been in existence ever since, making it one of the oldest archaeological societies in the world!
The Society was founded as a membership organisation and remains true to this founding doctrine to this day. While the Society is run by a team of paid staff, it is governed by a Council of Trustees, elected by the Society’s members, who all belong to the Society and donate their time and expertise.
2. What does the Society do today?
Despite the name, we don’t just concentrate on archaeology! The Society is exceptional among county archaeological societies in England in owning a diverse range of historic properties, and our core focus today is on preserving and maintaining these sites and keeping them open to the public.
We also have a strong focus on local history education and our reference library at Barbican House in Lewes is a leading resource for historians with particular interests in Sussex.
In addition to this, we regularly organise a range of events for our members (although non-members are welcome too!) including guided walks, talks and conferences. 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!
3. How is the Society funded?
The Sussex Archaeological Society is a registered charity (no. 207037) which receives no funding from the government, national or local. We are able to manage and maintain six historic properties and open them to the public, as well as supporting research into the archaeology and history of Sussex, thanks to the generous support of our members and donors.
For more information on the many ways in which you can help support the society, please visit the Support Us page. Your contributions make a huge difference, no matter how large or small!
4. How many members do you have?
Membership currently stands at just under 3,000 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 your children to any of our properties for free.
Please visit our Become a Member page for more information. We hope you will join us!
5. What happens when I become a member?
Members enjoy a range of benefits, including free entry to our six historic properties; unlimited use of our specialist library at Barbican House in Lewes; subscriptions to our official magazine Sussex Past & Present, as well as our annual journal Sussex Archaeological Collections; and much more.
There is a strong sense of community among our most active members, and once you have joined the Society, we will welcome your involvement.
For more information please visit our Become a Member page.
6. Can I become a volunteer for the Society?
Absolutely – our dedicated volunteers are a critical part of our success, and we are always happy to welcome new people to the team.
Visit our Volunteer page to see examples of some of the duties our volunteers are involved in, and all of the contact information you will need to get in touch.
7. Can I hire one of your properties for my event?
Yes, we offer a range of event opportunities, including Weddings, Civil Ceremonies, and Corporate Events.
Please visit our Venue Hire page for more information or contact the property you are interested in directly.