It is great to see the local community getting involved in its historic treasures

An artist's impression of what Whitehawk Camp would have looked like
An artist's impression of what Whitehawk Camp would have looked like

Brighton’s modern history is fairly well-documented.

Brighton’s modern history is fairly well-documented. Whether as the fishing village of Brighthelmstone, or as a fashionable Regency resort, many people know the history of our great city over the last few hundred years.

Not much, however, is widely known about Brighton’s first residents, who first settled here some 5,500 years ago.An archaeological dig currently underway, called Dig Whitehawk, is set to change that. The Whitehawk Camp is an early rare 200m-wide Stone Age monument. It’s more than 500 years older than Stonehenge and, excitingly, it’s thought to have been among Britain's first farming communities when humans moved from nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to more settled ones.

The Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project runs the site, thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding, and support from University College London, the council and the local Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society. The project brings together professional and skilled volunteers to help local residents find out more about Brighton’s Stone Age history.

There recently was a free open day for residents to find out more about prehistoric life in Brighton through demonstrations, displays and walks, Stone Age art activities and primitive technologies among other activities. Families were able to look at the ancient tools, bones, and pottery discovered in the area and find out how our Stone

Age ancestors lived.

Whitehawk is an area rich with history, with Whitehawk Hill hosting an area of ancient chalk grassland that recently helped us become the first mainly-urban UN Biosphere.

This internationally-rare habitat is home to some unique butterflies and orchids and we’ve supported Whitehawk residents and schoolchildren to find out more by getting out and about in their local area.

It’s great to see the local community getting involved in the historic and natural treasures on their doorsteps. I’m sure the city’s residents look forward to seeing similar events over the coming months.