First ever archaeological dig takes place at ‘hidden away’ ruins in Portslade

Fragments of medieval pottery, a buried medieval flint wall and even the remains of a wild boar were among the discoveries unearthed by archaeologists during the first ever dig at Portslade’s medieval Manor House.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 3:09 pm
The mayor and dig team at the site. Photo by Dexter Shepherd

The underground exploration at the rare Scheduled Ancient Monument was officially opened by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Alan Robins, who declared the ruins ‘a community resource for learning and heritage conservation’.

He said: “I am immensely proud of all the work that is being done to revive the history of these ancient ruins, which have been hidden away for so long with few people having any knowledge of their history.”

Tucked away behind St Nicolas Church, the house was built by Portslade’s Lord of the Manor in the 1130s – before falling into disrepair and being partly destroyed in the early 1800s.

The dig

The ruins are a rare example of a Norman manor house.

The dig was led by Fresh Start Portslade, which aims to raise awareness of Portslade’s rich history and resurrect the old manor house as a local history and community focal point.

Excavations showed the potential for some important finds to be unearthed at a future date.

Pete Tolhurst, the archaeology society’s Field Unit Director, said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Fresh Start on this unique community project.

The ruins in Portslade

“The seven test pits excavated revealed various features and a range of interesting finds.

“We have identified other areas for further investigation and hope to work with Fresh Start on these in the future.”

John Shepherd, the project leader from Fresh Start Portslade, said: “We are very grateful to Brighton and Hove Archaeology Society for coming along to help bring the fascinating history of Portslade’s old Manor House to life.

“We have also been working with local volunteers to create learning resources for adults and children alike, including the information boards that have been erected around the site and on-line educational packs for local schools.”

Future projects at the Manor House include family open days, school education projects, live music and performance and medieval cookery lessons.

To stay updated, follow the Easthill Park Community Cafe group on Facebook.

Find out more about the history of Portslade here.