Ancient Monuments

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Causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Hamsey, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8888 / 50°53'19"N

Longitude: -0.0127 / 0°0'45"W

OS Eastings: 539877.984437

OS Northings: 111804.442601

OS Grid: TQ398118

Mapcode National: GBR KPV.9LN

Mapcode Global: FRA B6VR.JWN

Entry Name: Causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill

Scheduled Date: 11 November 1954

Last Amended: 19 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27038

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Hamsey

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hamsey St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the surviving, north western part of a causewayed
enclosure situated near the top of the northern slope of a spur of the Sussex
Downs. The southern part of the enclosure was comprehensively excavated down
to the underlying chalk bedrock during 1976 and is therefore not included in
the scheduling, and 18th/19th century chalk quarrying has destroyed the
eastern side of the enclosure.
The excavation of the southern part of the enclosure demonstrated that the
monument, which survives mainly as a buried feature just visible as a slight
break in slope, will take the form of a double circuit of U-shaped elongated
pits of varying lengths, each up to 3m wide and originally up to 1.5m deep.
Each pit is separated from its neighbour by a causeway of undisturbed chalk
and is flanked on its inner edge by a c.5m wide bank of dumped chalk rubble.
The analysis of environmental evidence recovered during the excavation
revealed that the enclosure was originally constructed within a woodland
clearing, and that the inner pit circuit may have been constructed at a
slightly earlier date than the outer. It has been suggested that the circuits
were not complete because the eastern side of the enclosure was originally
defined by the steep, natural eastern slope of the spur; this evidence has
been obscured by the 18th/19th century chalk quarry. Finds dating to the
Neolithic period retrieved during the excavation included a polished flint axe
and 171 sherds of pottery. The deliberately buried, crouched, articulated
skeleton of a man who died in his early twenties was discovered in a small
grave dug into a segment of the outer pit circuit, and other, disarticulated
human bones were found within the pits. Faunal remains included the bones of
red and roe deer, cattle, beaver and pig.
The modern fences which cross the monument 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

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.

Although it has been partly damaged by chalk quarrying, this portion of the
causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill survives comparatively well, and the
comprehensive excavation of its southern part has demonstrated that it will
retain archaeological and environmental remains containing information about
the form and function of the monument, and its contemporary landscape setting.
The enclosure lies c.150m to the north of a pair of bowl barrows dating to the
Neolithic/Bronze Age period. These monuments are broadly contemporary and
their close association will provide evidence for the relationship between
burial practices, ceremonial and social customs during the period in which
they were constructed and used.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Drewett, P, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in The excavation of a Neolithic Causewayed Enc. on Offham Hill etc, , Vol. 43, (1977), 201-241

Source: Historic England

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