Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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A turf-cut hill figure known as The Long Man of Wilmington, 914m south-east of Acorn Barn

A Scheduled Monument in Long Man, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8101 / 50°48'36"N

Longitude: 0.188 / 0°11'16"E

OS Eastings: 554251.926398

OS Northings: 103450.502868

OS Grid: TQ542034

Mapcode National: GBR MTR.0CQ

Mapcode Global: FRA C68Y.R2B

Entry Name: A turf-cut hill figure known as The Long Man of Wilmington, 914m south-east of Acorn Barn

Scheduled Date: 1 May 1951

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002293

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 124

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Long Man

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Wilmington St Mary and St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a turf-cut hill figure known as the Long Man and associated below-ground remains. It is situated on a steep north-facing slope of Windover Hill, near Wilmington, on the north-eastern escarpment of the South Downs. The human figure is approximately 62m long and is represented with a staff in each hand. The date of the figure is unknown although it has been suggested that it may be of prehistoric or Roman origin.
A drawing dating to 1779 represents the figure holding a rake and scythe instead of a staff in each hand. The figure was 'restored' by the Duke of Devonshire using several thousand bricks to fill the outline in about 1873. Roman bricks are alleged to have been found during this restoration. In 1969, it was again 'restored' when the bricks were removed and replaced with concrete blocks. Partial excavation was carried out at this time and fired clay, possibly fragments of Roman tile, was found. Geophysical survey carried out on the site in 1969 and 1996 indicated that the concrete outline does not match the pre-1873 outline. It is suggested that the figure and staves were taller and that the left one was shaped as a scythe. Six small evaluation trenches excavated on the figure also found evidence of an early brick outline of post medieval, possibly mid 16th century, date.
The monument excludes all modern fences and fence posts, and information boards/notices but the ground beneath these features is included.

Sources: East Sussex HER MES4527. NMR TQ50SW32. PastScape 408705.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Prehistoric hill figures are large scale depictions of some kind of symbol, design or motif, generally in animal form, created by cutting away turf and subsoil to create a visual contrast with the surrounding grassland. They are usually best seen from some distance away, or from the air. All examples are believed to have originated in the Iron Age but the appearance of some has been altered in later periods. Some examples remain as obvious white figures in chalk or limestone. Those that have not been maintained may be recognised either as slight earthworks or as soilmarks in dry periods. Prehistoric hill figures are often interpreted as religious symbols, perhaps representing gods or totems. Very few prehistoric hill figures have been recorded and all surviving examples are regarded as nationally important.
Despite some alterations and disturbance in the past, the turf-cut hill figure known as the Long Man on Windover Hill, survives in a good state of preservation and forms a prominent feature in the landscape. The site has undergone limited excavation and will contain further below-ground archaeological and environmental information relating to the figure and its surrounding landscape. As a monument accessible to the public it also forms an important educational and recreational resource.

Source: Historic England

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