History of Birling Gap

Until the early 20th Century the history of Birling Gap and Seven Sisters was fairly stable. During the 20th Century, war and the risk of development have driven changes here and only the generosity of people has saved the downs. Birling gap has been a magnet for tourism for many decades and how we manage this today is an important part of our work.

A view from flag staff looking back towards Belle Tout

The Seven Sisters in prehistory

The landscape has been shaped by human activity and the signs are everywhere.

View of Seaford Head from Michel Dean

History of the farm land

The National Trust’s original holdings along the Seven Sisters were Crowlink, Birling Gap and Belle Tout. Their history has been extensively researched and this has provided the basis for this article.

A view of the coast guard station and cottages in 2017

The coast guards of the Seven Sisters

The coast guard have had a presence along the Seven Sisters for centuries.

A shot of barbed wire on the Seven Sisters Cliffs

The military at Birling Gap in the 20th Century

The military has been present at Birling Gap throughout the 20th century.