Our Projects

We are running a wide variety of projects and are always on the lookout for more opportunities.  If you are interested in joining in with any of our existing projects, would like more information on our work, or have a project you feel that we could help with, please get in touch.

Beachy Head

A Sense of Place

What do we love about Beachy Head?  Sometimes it takes the skills of a fine photographer to express the beauty of a landscape.

Photos: Lee Roberts

Beachy Head Landscapes and Legends

Beachy Head has an extraordinary history, millions of years of geological tales, thousands of years of human habitation, hundreds of years of changing land use and decades of cultural shifts.  From here, we can chart the evolution of the landscape, the rise of human innovation, and the wild adaptations of our natural ecosystems.

This project is based, Jimi Hendrix style, from the watch tower on the Headland.  The watch tower has come to symbolise, for us, the liminal connection between land and sea that defines this landscape.  People have looked out to sea from the watch tower for the last two centuries, watching passing ships and cetaceans, privateers, smugglers, warships, storms and cross channel ferries.

All around the watch tower, buildings have appeared and disappeared over the years, symbolising the changing nature of society and the innovations of technology.   From each of these buildings, people have stood looking out to sea, it is the nature of the landscape.

The current project is a narrative-based effort to write a new story of Beachy Head, one that takes into account the archaeology of the headland, the underwater archaeology of the seabed, and the marine wildlife that still call this place home.

This Beachy Head-based project has been funded through our Crowdfunder patrons, East Sussex County Council, Chalk Hill Trust and the National Trust.

Beachy Head Landwatches

We are taking part in a Citizen Science project in association with The Sussex Dolphin Project and The Beachy Head Story, to carry out surveys of the waters around the Headland and monitor the activities of Cetaceans and marine mammals.  We hope to help understand how important the seas around this part of Sussex are for these wonderful animals and monitor the effects we are having on their natural behaviours.  

SInce May 2023, we have been monitoring the activities of a colony of Harbour Seals who have spent the best part of the year living around the base of the cliffs beneath the Bomber Command Memorial.  

We have also witnessed the old Royal Sovereign Light Tower being dismantled and floated away!

Throughout the year, we have had multiple reports of Harbour Porpoises and Bottlenose Dolphins swimming through these waters, as well as a Minke Whale passing through in April.

A superpod of Common Dolphins were spotted off Eastbourne on the 6th of December, you can see the video footage here, recorded by local fisherman Jake Davison Eastbourne Dolphin Superpod.

Shipwreck Research Project

Looking through the archives for details of the 320+ known shipwrecks off Beachy Head from the last three centuries, we realised that the stories about Beachy Head are more global and more fascinating than we had ever imagined.  There's not a story we could make up about this landscape that could be more inspiring than the true stories we are uncovering here.

A team of dedicated shipwreck researchers (The Shipwreck Crew) are volunteering their time to explore and record the historical paper trails of ships that ended their voyages in sight of Beachy Head.

We're uncovering tales of French Privateers and American Civil War Soldiers, of ships laden with cargoes from Australia, South America and Jamaica, of storms and fogs, of heroism and smuggling.

We'll be adding each of these ships to a database which will be available for public use so we can all get a little more excited about the role this landscape has played in recording the history of the world.

Communications from the Headland

The shrinking headland of Beachy Head has been witness to centuries of international intrigue and innovation.  From this elevated point of the coastline, hundreds of people have made it their job to look out to sea and bear witness to history in the making.  

Not everything that was witnessed has been recorded, but there are still things to learn about the history of this globally important headland.

The physical remains of multiple buildings and structures lie embedded in the landscape, lines of old brick walls, the bases of old watchtowers, the traces of past foundations.  Taken singly, they might not mean much, but when we piece them together chronologically, we uncover a story detailing centuries of communications from the headland that are just begging to be told.

We are sifting through the archives for details about the people who lived and worked here, and tracing the evolution of the landscape from the Age of Sail to the Age of Space Travel.

With the help of our Changing Chalk colleagues, we are building up a picture of the life and times of the communicators of Beachy Head in order to help us all read the landscape a little more clearly. 

Tracing the Lost Voices of Beachy Head

Beachy Head has been a hub of international communication for hundreds of years, incorporating beacons, watch houses, coast guard stations, radar and secret bunkers! Unfortunately much of the evidence for these are long gone or in danger of disappearing forever due to aggressive erosion of the chalk cliffs (as a by-product of global warming) where their remains are located.

As part of our overarching Communications From the Headland project and with a generous award of £5000 from The National Trust’s Changing Chalk Community Grants scheme, we are working with a team of volunteers to non-intrusively survey and record all standing or visible archaeology relating to these structures and also carrying out a geophysical survey to show us anything beneath the ground including some of the earlier interventions by people on the Head. 

We are mapping the results and carrying out research to reconstruct the landscape changes through time and explore how these communications affected the lives and the communities who lived and work on the chalk downland. 

Seasonal Ambles

Although it can be said that Beachy Head does sometimes experience four seasons worth of weather in a day, the monthly changes on the Headland are manifested more subtly than in, say, a forest, where the abundant trees leave you in no doubt of the time of year.  Here the changes are seen in the flowering of smaller, but no less beautiful, herbaceous plants, the comings and goings of our migrant populations of birds and insects, the behaviours of the local sea mammals and the magnificent cloudforms in the big skies.

Each season we will go on a number of gentle meanders across the landscape, finding the signs of the changing seasons, sharing stories of wildlife and history and discovering the healing nature of experiencing all of this together.

Wildwood Heritage Press

The dissemination of good literature

What do we with all the stories we are accumulating?

Well, besides sharing our progress on the Watchtower Blogs and keeping records of what we discover, we'll be producing some awesome literature.  Watch this space. 


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