Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort known as Ranscombe Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Glynde, Lewes

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Latitude: 50.8634 / 50°51'48"N

Longitude: 0.0435 / 0°2'36"E

OS Eastings: 543905.8115

OS Northings: 109086.7187

OS Grid: TQ439090

Mapcode National: GBR LRF.ZR9

Mapcode Global: FRA B6ZT.GR7

Entry Name: Hillfort known as Ranscombe Camp

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1967

Last Amended: 22 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014528

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27030

County: Lewes

Civil Parish: Glynde

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: St Michael South Malling

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the earthwork defences of an unfinished large univallate
hillfort dating to the Iron Age, situated on a hill which forms part of the
Sussex Downs, enjoying extensive views of the Ouse valley to the south. The
hillfort has a roughly north east-south west aligned, curving bank c.400m long
and c.10m wide, surviving to a height of up to 2m at its north eastern end. To
the south west, the height of the bank has been reduced by modern ploughing.
The bank is flanked on its south eastern side by a ditch which has become
infilled in places, but which is visible towards its north eastern end as a
depression c.7m wide and c.1m deep, flanked by a slight counterscarp bank c.2m
wide. A c.6m wide gap in the defences c.30m from their north eastern end
represents the intended entrance.
The monument was partly excavated in 1959-1960 when it was found to date to
the early sixth century BC. Pottery sherds dating to the early second century
AD indicated occupation during the later, Romano-British period. The
excavation revealed that the bank was originally constructed as a box rampart,
or earth and chalk rubble wall reinforced with timbers and revetted with
turves. This was separated from the ditch by a berm of around 4.5m wide,
although natural slippage of the rampart over the years has largely obscured
this feature. The original profile of the earthworks has also been partly
obscured by a now disused, grassy track which runs along the course of the
infilled ditch at the south western end the monument.
The modern fence which runs across the monument and the stile situated towards
its north eastern end are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

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

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Although its earthworks have been levelled in places by more recent land use,
the unfinished large univallate hillfort known as Ranscombe Camp survives
well, and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological
remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument's construction and
the landscape in which it was built. The hillfort is unusual in that it was
never completed. Around 500m to the south east is a small multivallate
hillfort on The Caburn. These monuments are broadly contemporary, and their
close association will provide evidence for the sequence of settlement in this
area during the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England


Source 2 1964, RCHME, TQ 40 NW 8,

Source: Historic England

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