Skip to content

Changing Chalk Archaeology Apprentice Blog

our archaeology apprentice, Kayleigh, up a hill on a very windy day
Out on Mount Caburn near Lewes getting ready for Monument Mentors | © National Trust / Gary Webster

My name is Kayleigh. I’ve been working with the National Trust as an Archaeological Apprentice on the Changing Chalk team since January 2023, getting involved with the Monument Mentors, Downs from Above and The Big Dig projects. Each of these projects aims to encourage local communities to discover and get involved with the heritage on their doorsteps.

Why I chose Archaeology

I’ve always had an interest in history and archaeology. I studied Classical Civilisation at college and have previously completed work experience with the Mary Rose Trust. Last year I also spent four days along the Inca Trail soaking up the amazing archaeological sites of Peru. I’m now excited to get more involved in the history of the South Downs and learn more about the local heritage.

A view of Mount Caburn on a wet and windy day
Mount Caburn near Lewes | © National Trust /Gary Webster

Monument Mentors

As part of the Monument Mentors project, we've been working with local volunteers and community groups conducting condition surveys on scheduled monuments such as barrows and hillforts on the South Downs. Through the use of Historic England’s ‘Enrich the List’ initiative, this involves monitoring the conditions of these monuments to identify potential issues and avoid deterioration .

a group of volunteers on top of Caburn Hill
Monument Mentors ready for action | © National Trust / Gary Webster

Out and About

Most recently, we visited Mount Caburn and Saxon Down to assess several barrows, Anglo-Saxon hlaews or burial mounds, and, of course, the Mount Caburn hillfort. We spent around four hours around this impressive site - being careful not to get too close to the paragliders also enjoying the landscape, albeit from a slightly different angle). We found that, although some of the monuments were well maintained, others had been affected by burrowing wildlife.

two people measure the features of a scheduled monument
Taking measurements as Monument Mentors | © National Trust / Gary Webster

Collecting Vital Data

We were able to collect a lot of useful data to help preserve these monuments, but due to the scale of monuments in the local area there is always more to do. We found this in particular with the hillfort; there is such a large area to cover so there is the additional challenge of how best to present the data collected so it’s clear where exactly there is any damage to the monument. It’s likely that we’ll head back up there at another date to spend more time solely on the hillfort to ensure that we have as much information as possible.

There are lots of ways to get involved with our archaeology projects at Changing Chalk and you can find out about our upcoming events here. Or for more information, please contact Gary Webster, Heritage Officer, Changing Chalk

Adonis Blue butterfly

Changing Chalk - helping young people learn new skills and connect with the Downs 

Find out the latest from Find Your Future at Changing Chalk

Red star thistle on the chalky grasslands of the South Downs at Southwick Hill

National Trust Chalk Life Ranger, Kim Greaves, shares his passion for the chalk grassland of Southwick Hill 

Find out what the Changing Chalk rangers and volunteer team have been doing to care for the chalk grassland of Southwick Hill.