Ancient Monuments

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Devil's Ditch, section extending 1730yds (1580m) from Stane Street to north west end of Redvin's Copse

A Scheduled Monument in Boxgrove, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8683 / 50°52'5"N

Longitude: -0.7161 / 0°42'57"W

OS Eastings: 490443.375724

OS Northings: 108427.889351

OS Grid: SU904084

Mapcode National: GBR DGG.KRK

Mapcode Global: FRA 96DT.0VK

Entry Name: Devil's Ditch, section extending 1730yds (1580m) from Stane Street to NW end of Redvin's Copse

Scheduled Date: 24 January 1935

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005873

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 77

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Boxgrove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Boxgrove

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


A 1.57km length of Devil’s Ditch, running east from Redvins Copse West to Stane Street.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 22 October 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 1.57km length of Devil’s Ditch, also known as the Devil’s Dyke, a prehistoric linear boundary surviving as an earthwork and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on a gentle south-facing slope near Halnaker.

The earthwork is denoted by a bank and a ditch, which grows fainter as it heads east. It runs west to east, forming a boundary at the northern edge of Redvins Copse, passes north of Oak Cottage and Stanefield house before it ends at Stane Street Roman Road. At the eastern end it forms the southern boundary to Halnaker Park. Towards the western end, the bank is about 2.5m above the bottom of the ditch, which is about 6m wide. At the eastern end, near Stane Street, the ditch is wide and shallow indicating that it may have been recut at a later date and possibly used as an early trackway.

The Devil’s Ditch in Sussex has been documented by antiquarians since at least the 18th century. It is part of a group of linear earthworks on the gravel plain between the foot of the South Downs and Chichester Harbour. The entrenchments run from Lavant to Boxgrove and appear to enclose the area of the coastal plain to the south. It has been suggested that these marked out a high status, proto-urban tribal settlement (or ‘oppidum’) preceding the Roman invasion. The Devil’s Ditch is thought to date to the Late Iron Age (about 100 BC – AD 43) but was recut and extended in places during the medieval period. The name of the entrenchment is derived from a local tradition, which holds that the ditch was the work of the devil in an attempt to channel the sea and flood the churches of Sussex.

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 at least a millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used 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 from the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

The 1.57km length of Devil’s Ditch, running east from Redvins Copse West to Stane Street is a prominent landscape feature, which is well preserved. It will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the earthwork and the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hamilton, S, Gregory, K, 'Updating the Sussex Iron Age' in Sussex Archaeological Collections, , Vol. 138, (2000), 63 & 66
: West Sussex HER 1940 - MWS3239. NMR LINEAR 34. PastScape 1065548

Source: Historic England

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