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Rackham Banks: A cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Oldbottom Barn

A Scheduled Monument in Parham, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9027 / 50°54'9"N

Longitude: -0.5074 / 0°30'26"W

OS Eastings: 505050.332205

OS Northings: 112525.510163

OS Grid: TQ050125

Mapcode National: GBR GK0.BK7

Mapcode Global: FRA 96TQ.B57

Entry Name: Rackham Banks: A cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Oldbottom Barn

Scheduled Date: 9 November 1961

Last Amended: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015720

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29256

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Parham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Parham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a prehistoric cross dyke and an associated Itford Hill
style settlement situated on a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex
Downs. The NNE-SSW aligned cross dyke runs for c.250m across the ridge and has
a large bank up to c.3.5m high and c.12m wide flanked to the south east by a
ditch up to c.16m wide and c.2m deep. Two short sections of the earthworks
near each end of the monument have been levelled by long-term use of downland
tracks, and a third section near the centre of the dyke has been partly
levelled by past modern agricultural activity. The north western edge of the
bank has also been partly disturbed by modern ploughing.
The associated Itford Hill style settlement abuts the central section of the
cross dyke on its north western side. It is represented by an east-west
aligned, oval enclosure which survives as a hollow measuring c.40m by c.25m,
bisected by a low, north-south aligned bank. Records suggest that the
enclosure was originally bounded by a bank and external ditch, although these
have been levelled by modern ploughing. Analysis of a pottery sherd discovered
during part excavation of the enclosure in 1929 has suggested that the
settlement was occupied during the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age.
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

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans
the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used
later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial
boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities,
although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or
defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Itford Hill style settlements are small domestic settlements of one to three
households, usually covering an area of between 1ha and 3ha, comprising a
series of small banked compounds set back to back. The compounds are
frequently associated with tracks and hollow ways which link the settlements
to field systems, and round barrow cemeteries are often nearby. The
settlements date to the Late Bronze Age (tenth to eighth centuries BC).
Excavated examples have shown that the compounds usually contain circular
wooden buildings varying in diameter from 3m to 8m, with entrance porches.
Associated with these structures would have been a series of working areas and
fenced compounds; small ponds have also been found. Finds, including
loomweights and carbonised grain, provide evidence for the practice of a mixed
farming economy. Itford Hill style settlements are found in southern England,
principally on the chalk downland of Sussex where Itford Hill itself is
located. They are a rare monument type, with less than 20 examples known
nationally. All examples with surviving remains are considered to be of
national importance.
The cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement, together known as Rackham
Banks, survive well, despite some damage by later trackways and agricultural
activity. Part excavation has shown that the settlement contains
archaeological and environmental remains relating to its construction and use,
and the cross dyke is a particularly impressive and well preserved example of
its kind. Rackham Banks forms part of a dispersed group of broadly
contemporary monuments situated along the ridge, providing important evidence
for the relationship between burial practices, settlement and land division in
this area of downland during the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Curwen, E, Allcroft, A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Rackham Bank and Earthwork, , Vol. 73, (1932), 169-186

Source: Historic England

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