This is what our Sussex ancestors looked like – according to new archeology exhibition

Neolithic woman, remains found on Whitehawk Enclosure  (Credit: Brighton Museum)
Neolithic woman, remains found on Whitehawk Enclosure (Credit: Brighton Museum)

History lovers can get a glimpse of some of the earliest Sussex residents living from the Ice Age to the Saxons in a new exhibition.

The new archaeology gallery opens at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in the new year.

Brighton. Brighton Museum SUS-160526-171325001

Brighton. Brighton Museum SUS-160526-171325001

At the heart of the exhibition will be seven forensically-accurate 3D facial reconstructions revealing the faces of people, some of whose remains were found in and around Brighton and Hove from the Ice Age to the Saxon era.

Using modern scientific technology, research into the lives of these people has discovered a wealth of mystery, drama and tragedy through childbirth, malnutrition, toothache and possibly murder, the museum said.

The exhibition will show what they looked like and reveal their stories.

Named after its major benefactor, The Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery opens to the public on Saturday, January 25.

It is the first new gallery devoted to ancient history in Brighton and Hove for over 20 years following a public petition from the Brighton and Hove Archaeology Society.

One of their members, Brighton and Hove resident Elaine Evans BEM , donated a substantial grant to the museum to enable the gallery to be created.

She said: “For many years history and archaeology have fascinated me. One marvellous day I spotted a Stone Age flint blade by chance in my back garden in Hove, brought to the surface by worms. I was the first person to hold it since it was dropped by a hunter-gatherer thousands of years ago: the blade was still sharp.

“I ran a school of English for 27 years and education is so important to me. It’s wonderful that the museum will bring history alive to visitors young and old.”

The exhibition will also show: woolly mammoths, bisons, elephants and hyenas wandering the streets of Brighton with hyper realistic digital animated scenes; a birds eye view of the Sussex coastline showing how it has changed over the last 250,000 years; images of reconstructed ancient places in Brighton and Hove such as Neolithic Whitehawk and Iron Age Hollingbury Hill Fort; important objects including the unique Bronze Age Amber Cup, the Woodingdean stag statuette and the mysterious Sussex loops; and the story of time-traveller Elva as she journeys through the centuries in a specially commissioned set of children’s stories by local children’s author Imogen White and local artist Jennifer Khatun.

Cllr Alan Robins, chair of Brighton and Hove’s tourism, development and culture committee, said: “Recent years have seen strong local support for the development of a gallery to showcase the city and region’s rich archaeological collections, particularly since the introduction of prehistory to the national curriculum in 2014.

“Therefore we are delighted we are able to open this fantastic new archaeology addition to our popular museum thanks to the generous support of Elaine Evans.”

Dr David Rudling, president of the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society, said: “After years of campaigning for a return of a gallery to display some of the very rich archaeological heritage of the Brighton area, our society is pleased this has happened.”