Selected Article from the BHAS Bi-Annual magazine "Flint"
a lengthy and
Brighton Museum was in the
forefront of archaeology for much of the 20th century. Herbert Toms,
its curator in the early 1900s, was the founder of the Brighton
and Hove Archaeological Club, later to become the Society. The museum
originally had three long galleries filled to the brim with a
wonderful collection of ar-tefacts, including numerous flint axes and
tools, pottery from lo-cal sites, and magnificent reconstructed
displays of Whitehawk Camp, Hollingbury Hill-fort and the Rottingdean
long barrow. Many of the older members of BHAS will remember these
with affection. As youngsters we would wander these galleries and
stare in awe at this fabulous array.
It was sometime during the
1980s that a new gallery was creat-ed. This was designed and
built by Tristan Bareham and the ESAMP team, and the new gallery
included a full size Iron Age round house. The new gallery was opened
by David Attenbor-ough. One of the exhibits was of two of the
Whitehawk female skeletons displayed below a glass panel in the floor.
In 1998 Brighton Museum
received an eight million pounds lot-tery grant for re-vamping the
museum displays. BHAS were pleased to hear about the award until they
heard that, as part of the new scheme, there was to be the total
removal of any ar-chaeology from the museum!
BHAS held numerous meetings
with the museum hierarchy, but never managed to get a meeting with
the then head of BHCC museums who had made the decision to remove all
archaeology from the museum. Various past presidents, including
Arthur Collins, Val Betts, Doreen Richardson and myself, attended a
number of acrimonious discussions at the museum, but to no avail.
Archaeology was totally removed from the museum.
As a result of this there was
a major display at Hove Museum organised by Richard le Saux and the
It was a magnificent display
which consisted of three large galleries with many finds, and
numerous photographs of var-ious BHAS presidents and members. Sadly
this excellent exhibition lasted for only for three months. The
museum team did create a very small display in Brighton Museum in the
community group area. This display was designed by BHAS member Karina
Wiles. The display was due to last for 6 months, but actually lasted
for 12 years and was only re-moved as part of the new initiative for
a larger gallery.
It was when the local history
section of Brighton Library moved to The Keep in about 2015 that the
Society decided there was the potential for a real archaeological
gallery be-cause of all the extra available space. BHAS members moved
onto the streets to petition the public for the return of an
archaeology gallery in Brighton Museum, and there was huge public
support. Numerous BHAS members including Fran Briscoe, Linda
Robinson, Joan MacGregor, Maria Gar-diner, Jane Russell, David
Rudling, Mary Funnell and Elaine Evans were out in all weathers
seeking names on their peti-tion.
The lobbying proved extremely
successful with thousands of people signing up. The success of the
petition meant that a meeting of the full Brighton and Hove City
Council had to consider the proposal for a new gallery. David Rudling
gave such a splendid presentation at the meeting that the Council
announced that Brighton Museum should have an archaeol-ogy gallery.
The new gallery was to depict the ancient and rich heritage of the
city and its wonderful collection of finds. The only drawback was
that the Society would have to find £250,000 to finance the scheme!
BHAS were in the process of
discussing fund raising when a worthy patron appeared. Elaine Evans
had joined the Socie-ty in 2006 after being on one of the BHAS summer
walks at Bramber.
Elaine then attended many
lectures, was a regular on the BHAS outings, and also attended some
of the finds pro-cessing sessions.
That was so useful and I came
home with two key points for the practical development of this
gallery. One: the size of the font so that people can read it without
having to put on their reading glasses. Two: the position and angle
of the text below the display cases, accessible to everyone including
children. They have created something totally wonderful, and I am
100% convinced that it will receive local and national awards. Fantastic!
Thank you- Elaine Evans