Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Ring ditch and rectangular enclosure south east of Mockbeggar

A Scheduled Monument in Playden, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9711 / 50°58'15"N

Longitude: 0.7347 / 0°44'4"E

OS Eastings: 592098.421095

OS Northings: 122631.238005

OS Grid: TQ920226

Mapcode National: GBR RYV.0KS

Mapcode Global: FRA D6FJ.VDR

Entry Name: Ring ditch and rectangular enclosure SE of Mockbeggar

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1979

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002212

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 476

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Playden

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Playden St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


Ring ditch, enclosure, linear earthwork and prehistoric settlement remains, 265m south-east of Mockbeggar.

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 ring ditch, enclosure, linear earthwork and prehistoric settlement remains surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on elevated ground near Houghton Green, west of the River Rother.

The linear earthwork, denoted by a ditch, runs ENE to WSW, passing just to the north of the ring ditch and bisecting a sub-rectangular enclosure, the latter being just north-east of the ring ditch.

The site was partially excavated between 1929 and 1931. Around the inside of the sub-rectangular enclosure were postholes, stakeholes and possible stoneholes. These were interpreted as a wattle and daub fence but it has since been suggested that they may be a revetment for a low internal bank. Several flints were found inside the enclosure and a Late Neolithic date has been suggested.

The ring ditch was about 1.5m wide and 0.75m deep, enclosing an area 20m in diameter. The infill of the ditch included charcoal and burnt timber, which has been radiocarbon dated to the Early Bronze Age. The interior features included postholes, sandstone blocks and three linear hollows. Immediately outside the ditch, a possible hearth and posthole were uncovered, indicating an occupation site. Fragments of four small Bronze Age flat-bottomed pots were also recovered. Initial interpretations suggested that the ring ditch was a circular hut and the sub-rectangular enclosure may have been a stock enclosure. However more recent re-appraisal has suggested that the ring ditch enclosed a mound, revetted with timber posts, and a further horse-shoe shaped feature. There is little to suggest that it is contemporary with either the linear earthwork or the sub-rectangular enclosure, which are probably earlier, Late Neolithic, features. Residual finds from the site have included Mesolithic flints, medieval pottery, and bloomery slag.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Pre-historic linear earthworks were often built to mark important boundaries in the landscape. They usually comprise single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km.

Enclosures are man-made works which can date from the Neolithic to the post-medieval period. They are usually constructed as a means of protection or demarcation whether for animals or humans and are commonly denoted by banks and/or ditches. Prehistoric examples include small enclosed settlements, which can be sub-rectangular and curvilinear in plan and are wholly or partly surrounded by a ditch, bank or palisade, or by a combination or succession of all three. Where excavated they usually contain evidence of domestic buildings in the form of postholes as well as finds such as pottery and worked flint.

Ring ditches are sometimes identified as the remnants of round barrows levelled by cultivation. Round barrows are pre-historic funerary monuments, constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, over burials.

Despite having been part-levelled by ploughing, the ring ditch, enclosure, linear earthwork and prehistoric settlement remains, 265m south-east of Mockbeggar survive relatively well. Partial excavation has shown that they form a significant group of prehistoric monuments. Where such monuments occur on cultivated sites they usually only survive in buried form, visible only from the air as soilmarks and crop marks. Although there is some uncertainty concerning the exact function of the prehistoric monuments near Mockbeggar, it is clear that they represent important archaeological features relating to the organisation of the landscape in the prehistoric period. Further archaeological investigation using modern techniques and methods is likely to provide more conclusive evidence regarding their original use.

Source: Historic England


East Sussex HER MES2164 NMR TQ92SW103, TQ92SW7. PastScape 1302075, 419317.

Source: Historic England

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