Ancient Monuments

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Hilltop enclosure and linear boundary on Bow Hill

A Scheduled Monument in West Dean, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8981 / 50°53'53"N

Longitude: -0.8279 / 0°49'40"W

OS Eastings: 482524.666322

OS Northings: 111613.624078

OS Grid: SU825116

Mapcode National: GBR DFY.MHJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 964Q.R9F

Entry Name: Hilltop enclosure and linear boundary on Bow Hill

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1933

Last Amended: 26 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012319

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24393

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: West Dean

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Octagon

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the hilltop enclosure known as Bow Hill Camp and an
associated linear boundary situated on the summit of a ridge of the Sussex
The hilltop enclosure is a raised, level, sub-rectangular platform of c.0.5ha
surrounded by a rampart up to 2m high and 2.5m wide. The rampart is in turn
enclosed by a ditch which has become partially infilled over the years,
surviving as a depression up to 1m deep and c7.5m wide. The ditch is
particularly well-preserved on the northern side. The entrance to the interior
is formed by a simple gap in the ramparts 13m wide on the eastern side of the
enclosure. Beyond the western and northern sides of the ditch, and running
parallel to it, is a slight counterscarp bank 2.5m wide and up to 0.5m high.
The south western corner is formed by a complex arrangement of parallel banks
and ditches, and the linear boundary is a continuation of the southern ditch
of the enclosure, running downhill across the direction of the slope in a
south westerly direction for c.170m. The linear ditch is 7m wide and 0.5m deep
and is flanked to the north west by a bank 3m wide, surviving to a height of
0.25m above the surrounding ground.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Beneficial land use over the years has enabled Bow Hill and Kingley Vale to
support one of the most diverse and well-preserved areas of chalk downland
archaeological remains in south eastern England. These remains are considered
to be of particular significance because they include types of monument,
dating from the prehistoric and Roman periods, more often found in Wessex and
south western Britain. The well-preserved and often visible relationship
between trackways, settlement sites, land boundaries, stock enclosures, flint
mines, ceremonial and funerary monuments in the area gives significant insight
into successive changes in the pattern of land use over time.
Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of
ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or
plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between
the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually
interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was
stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more
strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often
difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally
consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to
the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted
of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely
dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely
scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits.
Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined
by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised
granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples
recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been
developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by
detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in
two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds.
More scattered examples are found in north east Oxfordshire and north
Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside
England. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in
understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all
examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
national importance.
Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
less than 1km to over 10km. The evidence of excavation and study of associated
monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millenium from the
Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused 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. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious
associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those
groups who constructed them.
Despite some tree-root damage caused by current woodland cover, occasional
trees and scrub, the hilltop enclosure and linear boundary on Bow Hill survive
well and contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to
the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The hilltop
enclosure is a small and particlarly well-preserved example likely to have
been associated with the management and movement of stock in this part of the
hinterland of Chichester Harbour, an area of growing settlement concentration
from the Late Bronze Age onwards. The linear boundary is one of a series of
linear earthworks partly enclosing the three limbs of the Y-shaped hill and
The Devil's Humps round barrow cemetery. These monuments are broadly
contemporary and their close association will therefore provide evidence for
the relationship between stock management, land division and funerary practice
during the period of their construction and use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Curwen, EC, Prehistoric Sussex, (1929), 141
Coffin, S, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950), 135-137
Coffin, S, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950), 135

Source: Historic England

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