The lost village of Northeye

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Nearly two dozen walkers were willing last Sunday to forego the delights and agonies of the men’s singles finals at Wimbledon to follow museum curator Julian Porter to Northeye, the mysterious site in the middle of the Pevensey Levels, where the village disappeared some time in the 14th century.

Where once were streets, cottages and a chapel one can now only find the traces of hollow ways and a few lumps and bumps.

However Julian explained the site with photographs, maps and drawings from two attempts to excavate by Normanhurst School in 1938 and by the Bexhill Museum Association in the 1950’s.

Finds from both these excavations can be seen at the museum together with a model of the possible chapel remains. Aerial photographs also revealed a surprising amount about what lies under the turf.

Julian described the long history of the area which figures in King Offa’s Charter. It has been settled since well before the Romans came and probably back to the Bronze Age.

He also explained something of the importance of the Pevensey Levels as a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a unique flora and fauna. Quite a few walkers were rather relieved not to locate a fen raft spider which nests in the dykes here and only one other site in England.

It was a glorious walk through flower filled fields with sky larks trilling overhead and handsome cattle with their pretty calves watching us as we passed by.

More people should explore these footpaths, though, as there is a risk that neglect will make them impassable for future generations.