A TEAM of archaeologists are using a drone to capture and survey a heritage site before it is “inevitably” lost due to coastal erosion.

Archaeology South-East are mapping the site of Seaford Head and creating a 3D model of the site, which is on Historic England’s heritage at risk register.

The project, which is funded by Historic England and South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), is costing £18,975 and will draw together expertise of University College London archaeologists, artists and videographers to create a permanent record from part of Seaford’s history.

Seaford Head contains archaeology from both the Bronze and Iron Age, with the site containing an Iron Age hillfort. It also contains a Bronze Age bowl barrow, which is a type of burial mound. There is also a reinforced concrete structure from the Second World War near the site.

John Sygrave, project manager for Archaeology South-East, explained how they will work on the “striking and beautiful” site.

He said: “Using a combination of non-intrusive archaeological techniques, we are assessing and recording the threatened heritage on Seaford Head. This includes desk-based analysis of historic maps, and aerial, topographic and geophysical survey, and could result in the discovery of previously unknown heritage assets.

“A crucial part of this is using a drone to capture archaeological features exposed in the cliff and accurately map the site’s earthworks to create a 3D model of Seaford Head, preserving its complex heritage for future generations.”

The project is a collaboration between Seaford Town Council, Archaeology South-East, SDNPA, and Historic England.

The Argus: The teams are using a variety of techniques, including drones, for the siteThe teams are using a variety of techniques, including drones, for the site

Marcus Jecock, Senior Archaeological Investigator and Coastal Lead at Historic England, said it is important to keep a record of the site before it completely falls into the sea.

He said: “Coastal erosion is not a new threat, but climate change is accelerating the rate at which erosion is happening and thereby the rate at which archaeological sites of all types that exist around our coasts are being lost - often without proper record.

“The hillfort on Seaford Head is a scheduled monument, meaning the archaeology here is recognised as nationally important. We, as a nation, cannot build sea defences to protect every stretch of coastline against erosion, so earlier this year Historic England added the site to the Heritage at Risk Register in recognition of the threat it faces.

“At the same time, we have commissioned Archaeology South-East to map the visible, above-ground remains in detail and to conduct a geophysical survey to give us a picture of buried features within the interior.

"Funding this work will help us make informed decisions on the long-term management and recording of the monument, before it falls completely in to the sea.”

The project will also be producing a short film and podcasts about “heritage loss linked to landscape change”.

For more information, visit UCL’s website.

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