Ancient Monuments

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Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9105 / 50°54'37"N

Longitude: -0.171 / 0°10'15"W

OS Eastings: 528679.370546

OS Northings: 113927.179481

OS Grid: TQ286139

Mapcode National: GBR JMX.ZHV

Mapcode Global: FRA B6JP.P6B

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill

Scheduled Date: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015228

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27078

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Pyecombe The Transfiguration

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a farmstead dating to the late Romano-British period and
its associated field system and trackway situated on the north eastern slope
of Wolstonbury Hill, a clay-with-flints capped, chalk spur which forms part of
the Sussex Downs.
The farmstead survives as a group of at least four north west-south east
aligned, parallel rectangular terraces measuring up to c.90m by c.15m cut into
the hillslope. Part excavation in 1934 and 1950 revealed traces of two
circular houses constructed on two of the terraces, the largest with a
diameter of c.12m. Fragments of clay roof tiles, a door key, iron nails, and
part of a Greensand rotary quern were also discovered, along with sherds of
pottery dating to the late fourth century AD. The investigations also
identified further building platforms representing the sites of at least
six associated structures.
The contemporary field system surrounds the farmstead, sharing its alignment
and orientation. It is represented by a number of faint parallel lynchets
with an average height of c.0.25m, covering an area of c.1.7ha. Approaching
the farmstead from the spur to the south west, the trackway survives as a
level terrace c.200m long cut into the hillslope and measures an average of
c.8m wide. The trackway continues to the south west of the monument in the
form of a narrow modern sheep track, although this area is not included in the

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-British farmsteads are small agricultural units comprising groups of up
to four circular or rectangular houses along with associated structures which
may include wells, storage pits, corn-drying ovens and granary stores. These
were sometimes constructed within a yard surrounded by a rectangular or
curvilinear enclosure, and associated field systems, trackways and cemeteries
may be located nearby. Most Romano-British farmsteads in south east England
have been discovered by the analysis of aerial photographs. They usually
survive in the form of buried features visible as crop and soil marks and
occasionally as low earthworks. Often situated on marginal agricultural land
and found throughout the British Isles, they date to the period of Roman
occupation (c.AD 43-450). Romano-British farmsteads are generally regarded as
low status settlements, with the members of one family or small kinship group
pursuing a mixed farming economy. Excavation at these sites has shown a marked
continuity with later prehistoric settlements. There is little evidence of
personal wealth and a limited uptake of the Romanised way of life. Romano-
British farmsteads occur throughout southern England, but cluster on the chalk
downland of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. As the most representative form of rural
settlement in the region during the Roman period, all Romano-British
farmsteads which have been positively identified and which have significant
surviving remains will merit protection.

The Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill
survive well and have been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological
remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the
monument. The farmstead forms part of a group of monuments situated on this
part of the Sussex Downs and its close association with earlier prehistoric
sites illustrates the changes in the way the hill has been used over the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Holleyman, G A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Romano British Site On Wolstonbury Hill, (1935), 35-45
Holleyman, G A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Romano British Site On Wolstonbury Hill, (1935), 35-45
note only, Woodard, Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950)

Source: Historic England

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