A 77-YEAR-OLD mystery of a sunken Norman longboat could play a crucial part in the progress of the £100 million Hastings-Bexhill Link Road.
Campaigners fighting to stop the carriageway from being built through the heart of the Combe Haven countryside are pinning their hopes on locating the legendary craft.
Nick Austin, a local historian, has researched the story of the longboat being buried in a ditch close to Combe Haven Holiday Park.
Nick believes if the longboat can be found it would prove that there would be more Norman artefacts in the area and would throw serious doubt on the legitimacy of the link road.
Local contractor Charles Somerville was working on building the aerodrome in Bulverhythe in 1935 when he made a stunning find.
While clearing the ditches with a mechanical bucket machine he pulled up a dragon’s head which was attached to a a wooden boat.
Nick says Mr Somerville’s boss told him to push it back underneath the water as they didn’t want it to interfere with their building programme at the time. Nick, who lives in Albany Road, St Leonards, said: “Research shows that it was a Norman longboat. If we can find this boat it would prove that the Normans sailed right up to the top of the valley.
“If there is one boat there then it means there must be more in the valley.
“As far as we’re concerned there has not been a proper archeological investigation of the site.
“It is just ridiculous to think that the link road could be built over a site of major archeological interest.”
Michael Bernard, spokesman for Bexhill Link Road Resistance, said: “I have written to Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey to demand there is a proper archeological dig in the area.
“We want the Battlefields Trust to investigate the site. This could be a World Heritage site and we don’t want it concreted over and lost forever. We will be supporting Nick every step of the way.”
Planning permission for the link road is subject to a condition requiring the implementation of a programme of archaeological work.
There is a detailed programme of work being undertaken by Oxford Archaeology.
County council spokeswoman Kathryn Langley said: “We’ve already been conducting archaeological surveys with professional contractors along the whole route of the link road in advance of main construction work. We haven’t uncovered any longboats or other evidence to suggest any specific links to the Battle of Hastings.” Work on the
road is due to start next month.
“This could be a World Heritage site and we don’t want it concreting over.”