Ancient Monuments

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Whitehawk Camp causewayed enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in East Brighton, Brighton and Hove

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Latitude: 50.8273 / 50°49'38"N

Longitude: -0.1126 / 0°6'45"W

OS Eastings: 533025.8782

OS Northings: 104778.54693

OS Grid: TQ330047

Mapcode National: GBR KQH.2C8

Mapcode Global: FRA B6NX.7YZ

Entry Name: Whitehawk Camp causewayed enclosure

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1923

Last Amended: 11 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010929

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20176

County: Brighton and Hove

Electoral Ward/Division: East Brighton

Built-Up Area: Brighton and Hove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Brighton St George with St Anne and St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument, which falls into two separate areas, includes a Neolithic
causewayed enclosure situated in a saddle between two low hilltops on
the chalk of the South Downs. To the east and west are steep slopes which
provide extensive views from the site in each direction.
The oval enclosure survives as an enclosed area c.100m across surrounded by a
series of four concentric banks with associated interrupted ditches and
evidence for further ditches. Two sections of the innermost bank survive as
visible earthwork features up to 9m wide and 0.5m high. The ditch which runs
along the outside of this bank can still be seen in places as a slight
depression, having become largely infilled over the years. There are no
traces of a bank between the inner and second ditches which are between 6m and
10m apart. A short length of upstanding bank, 9m wide and 0.5m high, survives
on the northern edge of the second ditch, suggesting that on the second
circuit the bank was external to the ditch. The third bank is the most
complete and survives up to 11m wide and 0.7m high to the east and 1.5m high
to the west.
An interrupted ditch, of which there are slight visible traces up to 5m wide,
runs around the outside of this bank except to the north-east, where the area
has been levelled during the construction of the Brighton race-course. The
distance between the second and third ditches is c.30m. The fourth bank
appears to have only been constructed in the north, west and south, with the
scarp slope to the east providing natural demarcation in that area. The outer
ditch is visible in places as a slight depression up to 10 wide. Fragments of
a fifth ditch to the north, and a fifth and sixth ditch to the south-east,
were located during road construction in 1935, although it is not thought that
these were ever complete circuits. In addition, extensions to the fourth
ditch have been discovered to the north-east, south-east and south-west,
cutting off the higher land to the north and south.
The extent of the monument was first identified in 1928 and it was excavated
in 1929 and 1932-3 by E C Curwen when small sections of the banks and
ditches were investigated. In 1935, in advance of the construction of a road,
Curwen excavated a trench across the site from north-west to south-east. The
inner ditch contained the greatest number of finds, the excavator recording it
as half-filled with broken pottery, bones and general domestic refuse. The
second ditch was similar in nature. In the third ditch two complete female
skeletons were found and fragments of at least six other individuals, while in
the outer ditch there were virtually no finds. Where surviving banks were
excavated evidence of a line of posts constructed along the top of the bank,
forming a palisade, was found. The ditches appeared to be primarily dug as
quarry ditches for the construction of the rampart and were not intended to
be defensive in their own right. In August 1991 evaluation of six trenches
was undertaken on the west and south-west of the monument in advance of a
housing development. The south-west extension of the fourth ditch was
investigated and remains of the fourth bank located further to the north.
Excluded from the scheduling are all posts, fence posts, fences and gates, the
stables and buildings of the race course, the pavement and street lamps along
Manor Hill Road and the concrete steps running down to the recreation ground
on the east. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included in
the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in
southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500
years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also
continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to
70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including
settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all
comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric
rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives
its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated
causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to
survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the
few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.

Despite some damage caused by road construction, Whitehawk Camp causewayed
enclosure survives well, the presence of at least four rings of defences
making it an extremely rare form of this type of monument. Partial excavation
of the site on at least two separate occasions has demonstrated the extent to
which both archaeological and environmental evidence will survive relating to
the construction and use of the monument as well as the contemporary
landscape. Such information allows a better understanding of the extent and
nature of occupation in the area during the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Curwen, EC, Archaeology of Sussex, (1954)
Russel, M, An Archaeological Assessment Conducted at Whitehawk, (1991)
Ministry of Works, Whitehawk Camp ES9 File AA 50859/1,

Source: Historic England

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