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Cultural Heritage Projects

Cultural Heritage Projects

Find out what projects the South Downs National Park Authority is currently supporting to enable better understanding of the rich cultural heritage within the National Park.

Click on the project title below for more details about Cultural Heritage projects we are currently supporting, who we are working with to deliver the projects and how these projects meet the outcomes of our Partnership Management PlanYou can also see where in the National Park these Cultural Heritage projects are on our interactive map (indicated in orange).

For case studies and details of past Cultural Heritage projects, click here

  • Artist in Residence for Seven Sisters Country Park

    The artist and writer Alinah Azedeh will foster new responses to Seven Sisters and the wider Sussex Heritage Coast; working collaboratively, Alinah will amplify the voices, stories and experiences of diverse groups, exploring a vision for the futures for this landscape from the perspective of nature, climate, heritage, identity and community.

    This project is possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England secured by the artist, and thanks to contributions of time and expertise from a range of partners.

    Partners: Writing Our Legacy, New Writing South, ONCA Gallery, A Woman’s Place, Enthum Foundation, UrbanFlo & Blast Theory.

    PMP outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts), 5.1 (A National Park for All).

  • Seaford Head Archaeology

    Seaford Head sits within an important area of chalk downland, in the South Downs National Park and Sussex Heritage Coast, and is owned and cared for by Seaford Town Council. The site includes a Scheduled Monument, comprising a later Bronze Age or Iron Age hillfort and Bronze Age bowl barrow. Scheduled Monuments are nationally important archaeological sites, protected by legislation and selected based on key principles covering characteristics including rarity, survival, condition and potential.

    The Scheduled Monument at Seaford Head has been subject to successive losses due to progressive coastal erosion, and is now on the Heritage At Risk register. A significant cliff collapse in March 2021 highlighted not only the time-critical nature of the current losses to site, but the potential archaeology that sits both within and outside the current Scheduled area.

    This project will deliver a systematic non-intrusive survey of the site, to better understand its significance and archaeological potential. It will also act as a pilot study exploring how to undertake rapid recording of a site in the time-critical context of coastal erosion (including full cost modelling), creating a replicable approach that could be applied to other sites nationally facing similar threats. The project will also inform future activities at the site to better understand and record its archaeological significance.

    Partners: Historic England, Archaeology South East, Seaford Town Council

    PMP outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage); 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts)

  • Shifting the Gaze – Micro Bursary Scheme

    Working in partnership with Writing Our Legacy, whose aim is to raise awareness of the contributions of Black and ethnically diverse writers, poets, playwrights and authors born, living or connected to Sussex and the South East, the SDNPA is supporting the delivery of 15 micro bursaries to support emerging and established writers to develop new ideas or produce new creative works inspired by the South Downs landscape.

    Bursary recipients will also receive mentoring and advisory support from New Writing South.

    For more information on this project click here.

    Partners: Writing Our Legacy

    PMP outcomes:4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts), 5.1 (A National Park for All).

  • Archaeology Walks Programme

    Project Summary: This project will deliver a walk programme that inspires and engages participants in the archaeology of the South Downs, bringing opportunities see sites through deep time.

    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 7.1 (Improve Health and Wellbeing)

  • Community Wanderings

    Project Summary: The overall vision of this project is inclusive, intergenerational ‘community wanderings’ connecting various hidden gems in different parts of the South Downs National Park and bringing them to life through storytelling and anecdotes of people and place.

    Project Objective:

    • Delivery of four walks for small groups, targeting first time visitors to the National Park to promote and create meaningful connection to the South Downs.
    • Delivery of a Story Telling event for participants from all four walks, to share their experiences of the walks, together with any creative work they produced in response to them.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 5.1 (A National Park For All) and 7.1 (Improve Health and Wellbeing)

    Project Partners: Saira Niazi

  • Footsteps App

    Project Summary: The Footsteps app is a platform that combines walking with cultural heritage to enhance user experience and understanding of the South Downs.

    Project Objectives:

    • To continue to develop high quality content for the app, to provide more choice to users and which showcases more creative and cultural stories from the South Downs.
    • To provide partners with expertise and support in the development of digital content that enhances visitor experience, with the potential to increase dwell time, support visitor flow and encourage repeat visits.
    • Ensure the App grows and becomes a valued tool in our digital interpretation approach.
    • Support the dissemination of more stories of the South Downs through personal digital devices.
    • Utilise digital platforms to encourage walking and spending time in the landscape.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage)

    Project Partners: Petersfield Museum

  • Echoes from the Earth with Chris Pavia and Stopgap Dance Company

    Project Summary: Funded by Arts Council England, the South Downs Trust and SDNPA, this project shares  a performance that inspires and engages audiences in the therapeutic benefits of nature and woodland, showcasing the creative talents of diverse artists and which focuses on providing a magical and inclusive experience for SEND families and young people and local communities. The performance, Echoes from the Earth, takes place in outdoor spaces with woodland and trees as the backdrop, inviting audiences to follow the dancers as they respond to a mysterious echo.

    Project Objectives:

    • Development and delivery of a performance piece, inspired by woodland and folklore of the South Downs.
    • Launch of the touring programme at Petworth House during Petworth Festival and at other supporting venues, including Gilbert White House and Gardens and Seven Sisters Country Park.
    • A series of workshops and creative events


    PMP Outcomes: 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts), 5.1 (A National Park For All) and 7.1 (Improve Health and Wellbeing)

    Project Partners: StopGap Dance Company, DAISY, Petworth House, Gilbert White House and Gardens, Seven Sisters Country Park.

  • Iron Age Build at Butser

    Project Summary: An Iron Age roundhouse built at Butser Ancient Farm, which has provided focus and opportunity for people struggling with mental and physical health challenges.

    Project Objective:

    • Continued opportunities for adults experiencing mental health challenges to participate in outdoor programmes inspired by the archaeology and heritage of the South Downs.
    • A new build project focused on Iron Age techniques will add to our understanding of the period.
    • Further cement relationships between the Third Sector and cultural heritage partners in the South Downs.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts), 5.1 (A National Park For All) and 7.1 (Improve Health and Wellbeing)

    Project Partners: Butser Ancient Farm and Operation Nightingale

  • Portraits of the South Downs

    Project Summary: Portraits of the South Downs – devised and led by Saira Niazi of Slow Ways and Living London – will share photographs and stories of people from all walks of life with unique and personal connections to the South Downs National Park, and the various hidden gems and features that render it so special.

    Using a mixture of audio recordings, transcriptions, walking trails, quick start, practical tips on walking, quotes, blog posts, photo essays and portrait stories, the project will celebrate two recent projects led by Saira: Community Wanderings with the South Downs National Park Authority, and the New Perspectives bursary programme with the Campaign for National Parks.

    It is hoped that the project will inspire more people to visit the South Downs National Park through sharing diverse and multi-layered stories of peoples’ connections to the landscape. In addition. The stories and anecdotes will illustrate self-guided wanderings and bring the landscape to life, allowing more people to feel a greater sense of connection and belonging.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts) and 5.1 (A National Park For All)

    Project Partners: Saira Niazi

  • Setting the Standard

    Project Summary: Funded by Historic England, the National Trust and SDNPA, the introduction of a consistent and standardised approach to monitoring and recording Scheduled Monuments will deliver multiple benefits:

    • Enables organisations (including SDNPA) to better target both its own resource and its advisory support for cultural heritage (e.g. by providing a standardised framework that can be disseminated through Whole Estate Plans, Farming in Protected Landscapes, our advisory functions etc.)
    • Enables the collection of standardised data to better understand the picture on the ground in terms of Scheduled Monument management and condition, helping us to monitor how far landscape actions and activities are positively or negatively impacting heritage that is legally protected.
    • Ensures we can set a framework and standard that aligns and encourages Scheduled Monument management as an integrated action alongside landscape and habitat actions (i.e. monitoring, conservation, and other on-site interventions).


    The project deliverables will include guidance and a best practice standard, requirements for landowners, advice for community involvement, protocols for communication and data sharing, terminology guidance, forms and report templates and a ‘how to’ training guide (including short ‘how to’ films).


    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage)

    Project Partners: National Trust and Historic England

  • We See You Now: Legacy Project

    Project Summary: We See You Now, devised and led by Alinah Azadeh, our Writer in Residence for Seven Sisters, has researched and explored the iconic chalk coast landscape and considered some of the most pressing issues facing countryside today, from representation and inclusion to biodiversity and climate change.

    Alinah Azadeh is not  only producing her own work inspired by this changing coastline, but is also working with a network of creative writers and thinkers, to foster new work inspired by the Heritage Coast. We See You Now has also delivered writer retreats, workshops and events that explore the global imaginary and supports more creative talent to visit or revisit the countryside as a focus of contemplation and inspiration.

    Through speculative fiction and personal testimony, participants have explored their connections to countryside (both positive and negative) as well as a range of themes, such as trauma and healing, nature and climate, voice and representation.

    In this legacy project, We See You Now will seek to share the ongoing impact of the project on participants, through a commissioned film, a series of NFC / QR posts sharing work in the spaces that inspired them, and through a brochure giving an overview of the project, its participants and the areas of the South Downs that formed the inspiration for new writing.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.1 (Conserve Heritage), 5.1 (A National Park For All) and 5.2 (Improve Accessibility)

    Project Partners: Alinah Azadeh

  • Wriggle Room

    Project Summary: From May 2022, Towner will deliver an early years programme with pre-school children. Although delivery is focused on children, the aim is to engage families from target communities in and around Eastbourne through a partnership with Willingdon Trees Community Centre in Hampden Park.

    Creative sessions, called Wriggle Room, will be delivered by two artists and will use sensory learning.

    The project will use the Willingdon Trees and Towner Gallery venues to test new approaches that bring families from different backgrounds together.

    The project will draw on Towner’s collections and Eastbourne’s unique natural landscape as inspiration for creative activities.

    Willingdon Trees Community Centre is at the heart of this community focused project. It is locally led, supported by volunteers and has a growing number of community activities including playgroups, support for young carers and ‘Toddler Allotment’ sessions, which utilise the centre’s community garden and outdoor space. It is also located at the foot of the South Downs.


    PMP Outcomes: 4.2 (Promote Contemporary Arts and Crafts) and 7.1 (Improve Health and Wellbeing)

    Project Partners: Towner Eastbourne


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."