Ancient Monuments

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Iron Age cliff castle and site of St George's churchyard on East Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Old Hastings, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8595 / 50°51'34"N

Longitude: 0.6026 / 0°36'9"E

OS Eastings: 583261.622961

OS Northings: 109893.968239

OS Grid: TQ832098

Mapcode National: GBR QYP.34K

Mapcode Global: FRA D64T.QLC

Entry Name: Iron Age cliff castle and site of St George's churchyard on East Hill

Scheduled Date: 11 December 1951

Last Amended: 10 February 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011086

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12870

County: East Sussex

Electoral Ward/Division: Old Hastings

Built-Up Area: Hastings

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hastings St Clement and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the earthworks and internal area of an Iron Age cliff
castle, defended by steep cliffs on three sides, and within which is St
George's churchyard, first referred to in 1291.
The cliff castle measures overall some 450m NE-SW by 200m NW-SE. To the
south-west, an artificially steepened line marks the limits of the site. The
principal earthwork defences were on the north-east side, where a natural
ridge was enhanced to form a bank up to 30m in width and some 4m high which
cut off the promontory from the ground to the east. This bank may have been
accompanied by a ditch on its east side though there is currently no evidence
for this surviving. The bank is breached near its centre by an original
entrance aligned obliquely. It has been breached in other places since the
site's abandonment, most noticeably some 30m from the cliff edge to allow for
a coastal footpath.
Extending south-eastwards from the original entrance is an outer earthen bank
and ditch, or hornwork, which formed an additional defence. This earthwork,
up to 40m in width, has been spread to a greater extent than the principal
bank, but its ditch is still visible on its north-east side.
The outline of St George's churchyard is marked by an approximately
rectangular raised area 85m by 50m around which is a bank which reaches 2m in
height. It is now believed that there is no evidence for a church ever having
been present on the site. The visible internal divisions relate to the use of
the area for allotment gardens.
All road surfaces, modern structures and service trenches are excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cliff castles are coastal promontories adapted as enclosures by the
construction of one or more ramparts placed across the neck of a spur.
Promontories chosen generally end in steep cliffs on the seaward side though
examples are known to occur inland, overlooking river valleys or estuaries, or
situated on low coastal cliffs. They are mostly of Iron Age date and were
generally abandoned by the middle of the 1st century AD.
Of the fifty examples recorded to date in England, nearly all occur in Devon
and Cornwall, though isolated examples do occur elsewhere, for example in the
south-east. The majority of sites are located on the north Cornish coast and
around the Lizard Penisula.
Cliff castles are thought to have served similar purposes to defended hilltop
enclosures in inland locations. Some show evidence for permanent occupation
but others may have served as temporary refuges or to protect stock and
agricultural produce.
In view of the relative rarity of this class of monument and its importance in
understanding the distribution of Iron Age communities prior to and during the
early years of the Roman occupation, all surviving examples are thought to be
worthy of protection.
The example on East Hill is one of only very few outside south-west England,
in an area where other types of hillfort predominate. Its bank survives well
and the presence of the hornwork is unusual.
The presence of St George's churchyard is evidence for the continued use of
the hill following the end of the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England

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