Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric rock shelters and a multivallate hillfort at High Rocks, 309m ESE of High Rocks Inn

A Scheduled Monument in Frant, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.122 / 51°7'19"N

Longitude: 0.2296 / 0°13'46"E

OS Eastings: 556134.482758

OS Northings: 138222.432066

OS Grid: TQ561382

Mapcode National: GBR MPX.QVB

Mapcode Global: VHHQK.X2R6

Entry Name: Prehistoric rock shelters and a multivallate hillfort at High Rocks, 309m ESE of High Rocks Inn

Scheduled Date: 19 November 1959

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003816

English Heritage Legacy ID: KE 399

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Frant

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Frant with Eridge

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes prehistoric rock shelters, with evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation and an Iron Age multivallate hillfort. It is situated on a hill top, with a rocky promontory on the north-west side, overlooking the valley of the River Grom. The site lies a short distance to the west of Royal Tunbridge Wells and straddles the East Sussex and Kent border. The rock shelters, surviving as below-ground archaeological remains, are situated in gullies between the projecting High Rocks. The hillfort above measures about 470m north west to south east and 350m north east to south west. There is a double bank and ditch on the north east, south east and south west sides, while the north west side is defined by the High Rocks escarpment. The entrance to the hillfort lies at the south end of the south east side.
The site was partially excavated in 1940 and between 1954 and 1961. A variety of Mesolithic and Neolithic material was found in association with the rock shelters. This included numerous flint implements and waste material, sandstone hearths, charcoal, Neolithic pottery sherds and arrowheads. The flints included micro-cores, micro-blades, microliths, blade cores, blades and blade tools. The Iron Age hillfort yielded evidence for two phases of construction. Initially a univallate hillfort is thought to have been constructed with a single bank and ditch and simple entrance, for which evidence of a gate and palisading were found. An inner bank, revetted with stone on its outer face, a guardroom with outer wall and a paved south-east approach road were later added. The pottery uncovered included late Iron Age 'A', Belgic and Wealden (Hawkes 'Southern Second 'B'') type. These indicate that the fort was occupied in about 150 BC - 100 BC and again in the 1st century A.D. Evidence for later Romano-British occupation site was also found in the eastern part of the hillfort.
The monument excludes all modern fences and fence posts, gates and gate posts, and the surfaces of modern pathways but the ground beneath these features is included.

Sources: East Sussex HER MES3276. NMR TQ53NE8, TQ53NE9. PastScape 409149, 409154.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Rock shelters such as these, with evidence of Mesolithic (10,000 BC - 4,000 BC) and Neolithic (4000 BC - 2200 BC) occupation, represent an early form of human activity. Evidence for occupation is often located close to the rock walls or on exterior platforms. The interiors sometimes served as special areas for disposal and storage or were places where material naturally accumulated from the outside. Rock shelters are of major importance for their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type.
Small multivallate hillforts are fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally.
The hillfort at 'High Rocks', 309m ESE of High Rocks Inn survives well and is a good example. Partial excavation has indicated that the earthwork defences will retain evidence for construction techniques employed during the Iron Age whilst the interior will retain evidence for the occupation of the hillfort, the economy of its inhabitants and subsequent Romano-British occupation. The prehistoric occupation site within the bounds of the later Iron Age hillfort represents an unusual occurrence, and will retain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the occupation of the rock shelters and the surrounding landscape at the time of occupation.

Source: Historic England

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