Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Pillow mounds on Ashdown Forest

A Scheduled Monument in Hartfield, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.062 / 51°3'43"N

Longitude: 0.0713 / 0°4'16"E

OS Eastings: 545238.5733

OS Northings: 131223.4266

OS Grid: TQ452312

Mapcode National: GBR LP5.6V3

Mapcode Global: FRA C619.TV5

Entry Name: Pillow mounds on Ashdown Forest

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002234

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 409

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Hartfield

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Coleman's Hatch Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


Pillow mounds on Ashdown Forest, 900m WSW of Foresters Cottage.

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 group of seven pillow mounds or artificial rabbit warrens surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on a west-facing slope overlooking a stream valley in Ashdown Forest. The slope once formed part of Pippingford Park estate but has latterly been used as an army training area.

The mounds are linear earthworks about 1m to 1.5m high and orientated either east to west or broadly south-east to north-west. They are between about 234m and 66m long and 10m wide. The largest mound is situated at the northern end of the site. They each have clear and pronounced ditches about 1m deep on each side, although some extend right around the ends of the mounds.

The pillow mounds or artificial rabbit warrens are thought to date to the mid 17th century. The area is referred to as ‘Warren Lodge’ in a Parliamentary survey of 1646. It was later used as a softwood plantation, the drainage ditches cutting through some of the banks, but this was felled during the First World War.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Rabbits were valuable animals in the medieval and post-medieval periods, which were used for their meat and fur. The mounds served as burrowing ground for the rabbits, which were caught by covering the mound with a net and introducing a polecat or ferret. Pillow mounds can be found singly or in groups and usually range from 6m to 150m long, although larger and smaller examples have been known. They are rarely more than 10m wide and most have transverse dimensions of between 4m and 6m. They are most common on sloping ground, situated at right angles to the contours.

Despite damage through tree planting in the past, the pillow mounds or artificial rabbit warrens, 900m WSW of Foresters Cottage survive well as prominent earthworks and provide significant evidence of post-medieval rabbit farming on Ashdown Forest. They will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to their original construction, function and the landscape in which they were constructed. Both the size and uniform nature of the mounds indicate that they are remnants of what may have been an extensive 17th century industry.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Williamson, T, The Archaeology of Rabbit Warrens, (2006), 15-17, 28
NMR TQ43SE12. PastScape 407078.

Source: Historic England

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