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Hillfort, a beacon and dewpond on Ditchling Beacon

A Scheduled Monument in Ditchling, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9013 / 50°54'4"N

Longitude: -0.1079 / 0°6'28"W

OS Eastings: 533144.581955

OS Northings: 113020.715565

OS Grid: TQ331130

Mapcode National: GBR KPJ.HJL

Mapcode Global: FRA B6NQ.HSH

Entry Name: Hillfort, a beacon and dewpond on Ditchling Beacon

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 9 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015340

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27031

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Ditchling

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Ditchling, Streat and Westmeston

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Details

The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort dating to the Iron Age, and
a later beacon and dewpond situated on a ridge of the Sussex Downs. A boundary
stone dating to the post-medieval period is also included in the scheduling.
The hillfort defences, which survive in the form of earthworks and as crop
marks visible on aerial photographs, enclose a roughly rectangular area of
about 7ha. On the north western and eastern sides, the defences take the form
of a low bank about 3m wide and up to 1m high surrounded by a ditch which has
become partly infilled over the years, but which is still visible as a
depression about 3m wide and up to 0.5m deep. To the north, where the ground
falls away sharply to form the steep northern scarp of the ridge, artificial
defences were not constructed. Towards the south and west, the bank and ditch
have been largely reduced by modern ploughing. The hillfort was partly
excavated in 1929 when sherds of Iron Age and Romano-British pottery were
found within its interior. Several gaps have been created in the ramparts over
the years, most of which result from use of the later downland tracks and
paths which cross the monument.
The later beacon, located in the northern sector of the hillfort, takes the
form of a circular mound around 10m in diameter and around 0.5m high, on which
a later, modern OS trig pillar has been sited. The location of the beacon
makes use of the prominent location of the monument, which commands extensive
views of the Channel coast to the south and the Weald to the north. Ditchling
beacon was one of a chain of beacons which stretched along the South Downs
during the medieval and post-medieval periods.
Lying around 3m to the north west of the hillfort ditch on the north western
side of the monument is a now dry dewpond dating to the 18th or 19th
centuries. This has a circular hollow around 20m in diameter and 1.5m deep,
surrounded by a 5m wide retaining bank. This survives to a height of 1.5m
above the surrounding ground on its southern and western sides.
The boundary stone marks the line of the former parish boundary and dates to
the 19th century. It is situated around 8m to the south of the northern scarp
of the ridge, within the northern sector of the earlier hillfort, and is a
low, square Greensand pillar with a pyramidal top which has the initials `WP'
and `TD' inscribed on its south eastern and north western sides. At least two
further, similar boundary stones were formerly sited within the monument along
the former parish boundary to the south, but these have now been removed.
Excluded from the scheduling are the viewing point panel and paving situated
near the beacon, the Ordnance Survey trig pillar which lies on the beacon,
all modern fences which cross the monument, all stiles and gates, and the
modern concrete boundary marker situated around 75m to the south of the
northern edge of the monument along the former parish boundary, although the
ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. 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. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Although it has been partly damaged by modern ploughing, the slight univallate
hillfort on Ditchling Beacon survives comparatively well, and has been shown
by part excavation to contain archaeological remains dating to the period in
which it was consructed and used. The later beacon mound also survives well,
despite some disturbance caused by the later OS trig pillar, and its siting
within the hillfort reflects the far-reaching visibility of the monument in
the landscape. The 18th/19th century dewpond illustrates the importance of
this area of downland for stock grazing during the agricultural revolution,
and the 19th century parish boundary stone is a relatively unusual survival of
a type of monument which originally enjoyed a widespread distribution of the
Sussex Downs.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
FMW, Coad, V, Ancient Monument Record Form, AM107, (1991)
RCHME, NMR TQ 3313/8 Frame 350, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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