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Field system on Bullock Down

A Scheduled Monument in Meads, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.7446 / 50°44'40"N

Longitude: 0.242 / 0°14'31"E

OS Eastings: 558274.834524

OS Northings: 96283.829435

OS Grid: TV582962

Mapcode National: GBR MVL.807

Mapcode Global: FRA C7D3.N46

Entry Name: Field system on Bullock Down

Scheduled Date: 23 November 1979

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002207

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 468

County: East Sussex

Electoral Ward/Division: Meads

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Eastbourne St John,Meads

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


Iron Age and Romano-British field system with associated settlement and trackway, 640m south-west of Bullock Down Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 February 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a Romano-British regular aggregate field system, settlement remains and trackway surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on chalk downland slopes between Bullock Down Farm and Hodcombe Farm near Beachy Head in the South Downs. The field system crosses the areas known as Sweet Brow, Bullock Down, Bulling Dean, Frost Hill and West Brow.

The lynchets and field banks survive up to about 0.8m high on the summit of West Brow. The fields run on a north-south or NNW to SSE axis. Romano-British marling pits have been identified as undulations in the landscape. A double-lynchet trackway runs for a distance of about 1km WSW from Sweet Brow to Frost Hill. The field system is partly overlain by later medieval strip lynchets and ridge and furrow.

Numerous archaeological finds dating from the Mesolithic to the Roman period have been found. The discovery of a flint-working floor and flint axe has provided evidence for a possible Neolithic occupation site. In 1899, 1961, 1964, 1973 and 1980 Roman coin hoards were discovered. These included thousands of silver and bronze coins dating from AD 196 to AD 266. Between 1976 and 1980, the area was partially excavated and underwent geophysical survey as part of the Bullock Down landscape project undertaken by the Sussex Archaeological Field Unit. Romano-British settlement remains identified during, and prior to, these investigations included corn-drying ovens, building post-holes and platforms, bronze domestic objects, pottery and roof tile. These are probably the remnants of farmsteads closely associated with the field system.

Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument, but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Iron Age and Romano-British remains near Bullock Down Farm are pre-dominated by a regular aggregate field system with component features in the form of a trackway and settlement remains. Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system, such is the case near Bullock Down Farm.

The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

Although partly levelled by ploughing in the past, the Iron Age and Romano-British field system with associated settlement and trackway, 640m south west of Bullock Down Farm survive well. The importance of the monument lies in the inter-relationship between the field system, settlement and trackway, which provide highly significant evidence of human reorganisation of the landscape in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods. They provide an important contribution to our understanding of the past agricultural economy in this part of the South Downs.

Source: Historic England


NMR TV59NE71, TV59NE86, TV59NE190, TV59NE218, TV59NE181, TV59NE226, TV59NE227, TV59NE205, TV59NE77, TV59NE180, TV59NE237, TV59NE191, TV59NE242. PastScape 470083, 470120, 970605, 971131, 970534, 971149, 971150, 970960, 470099, 970531, 971168, 970610, 971204.

Source: Historic England

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