Ancient Monuments

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A 362m length of Devil's Ditch running WNW from Chapel Lane

A Scheduled Monument in Funtington, West Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.866 / 50°51'57"N

Longitude: -0.8164 / 0°48'59"W

OS Eastings: 483388.686987

OS Northings: 108054.188728

OS Grid: SU833080

Mapcode National: GBR DGB.QDB

Mapcode Global: FRA 965T.9R6

Entry Name: A 362m length of Devil's Ditch running WNW from Chapel Lane

Scheduled Date: 24 January 1935

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005881

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 85

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Funtington

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Funtington and West Stoke with Sennicotts

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Details

The monument includes a 362m 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 slope north of Densworth Copse. The earthwork is denoted by a bank, up to 1.5m high, with a ditch on the north side. The ditch has become in-filled over the years but survives as a buried feature. The bank runs a straight course WNW from Chapel Lane towards Lye Lane. It gradually diminishes as it heads further west where it forms part of a field boundary. In 1997, a geophysical survey and archaeological watching brief were carried out between Lye Lane and West Stoke Road during the laying of a pipeline. This identified the ditch as extending up to about 7.3m wide and about 2m deep. No finds were recovered.
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.
The monument excludes all modern fences and fence posts, gates and gate posts but the ground beneath these features is included.

Sources: West Sussex HER 1940 - MWS3239. NMR LINEAR 34. PastScape 1065548.
Hamilton, S and Gregory, K. 2000. Updating the Sussex Iron Age. In Sussex Archaeological Collections 138, pp 63 & 66.

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 362m length of Devil's Ditch running WNW from Chapel Lane survives well. It will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the earthwork and the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England

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