Ancient Monuments

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War Dyke entrenchment in Whiteways Plantation and South Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Houghton, Arun

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Latitude: 50.8846 / 50°53'4"N

Longitude: -0.5769 / 0°34'36"W

OS Eastings: 500200.704

OS Northings: 110418.594

OS Grid: TQ002104

Mapcode National: GBR FHS.JXY

Mapcode Global: FRA 96PR.M36

Entry Name: War Dyke entrenchment in Whiteways Plantation and South Wood

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1967

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002983

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 330

County: Arun

Civil Parish: Houghton

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Bury St John the Evangelist with Houghton St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The War Dyke and associated linear earthworks, 145m south of Whiteways Lodge.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 6 November 2014. The 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 prehistoric linear boundary and associated linear earthworks situated on the slopes of Rewell Hill in the South Downs, which descend eastwards to the River Arun.

The earthwork spans a distance of 1.32km and is denoted by a bank with a ditch on each side where the ground is fairly level, but becomes a bank with single ditch on the uphill side along the steeper slopes. The bank varies in height from about 3m to 1.5m above the bottom of the ditch or ditches. It runs north-east from Rewell Hill Woods on a north-facing slope before descending an east-facing slope, where it is crossed by London Road (A284). At this point it curves ESE before resuming north-east through Arundel Park where it extends nearly as far as the River Arun. A short section at the eastern end, south of Houghton Lodge, appears to have been destroyed through quarrying. The earthwork presumably went as far as the River bank at this end. At the western end, on the north-facing slope of Rewell Hill Wood, another bank runs 363m parallel a short distance downslope from the War Dyke. A later hollow way runs between these two earthworks, possibly on the site of an original passage gap. Also between the two linear features and near London Road is a scarped ditch with lower bank, part mutilated by later trackways and quarrying. East of London Road the War Dyke apparently overlies an earthwork comprising a bank with a ditch on the western, uphill, side. This extends for about 80m before fading into previously ploughed land. The name ‘War Dyke’ is derived from local tradition. The original purpose of the linear earthwork is uncertain but it shows similarities to the Chichester Dyke and is possibly of Iron Age origin. The size and position of the War Dyke suggests that it may have partly served a defensive purpose.

Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument some, such as a nearby Cross Dyke, are scheduled but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying from between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction often spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use; all well-preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Despite some damage from quarrying in the past, the War Dyke and associated linear earthworks survive very well and form a prominent feature in the landscape. They will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to their construction, original purpose, and the landscape in which they were built. The presence of other archaeological remains, which form separate schedulings nearby, such as earthworks in Dalesdown Wood and a Cross Dyke to the north, enhance its importance.

Source: Historic England


West Sussex HER 2498 - MWS2788. NMR TQ01SW48. PastScape 393296.

Source: Historic England

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