Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow cemetery at Blackpatch, 400m north east of Myrtle Grove Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Clapham, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8683 / 50°52'5"N

Longitude: -0.4467 / 0°26'48"W

OS Eastings: 509396.331595

OS Northings: 108793.796173

OS Grid: TQ093087

Mapcode National: GBR GKH.FVV

Mapcode Global: FRA 96YT.3SC

Entry Name: Prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow cemetery at Blackpatch, 400m north east of Myrtle Grove Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1933

Last Amended: 12 June 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015880

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29271

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Clapham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Findon, Clapham and Patching

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow
cemetery situated on the south western slope of a chalk hill which forms part
of the Sussex Downs. The flint mine, the earthwork remains of which were
levelled by bulldozing around 1950, survives as a group of at least 64 roughly
circular, infilled shafts up to c.6m in diameter, visible as crop marks on
aerial photographs. The monument was partly excavated between 1922-1930, when
eight of the shafts were investigated. They were found to be between 1m-3m
deep and contained horizontal galleries up to c.8.5m long following the single
seam of flint. Struck flint flakes and pottery sherds dating from the Late
Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age were found within the shaft fills,
as was an antler pick dated by radiocarbon analysis to c.3000 BC. Carved
chalk objects, animal bones and several contemporary cremation burials were
also discovered. Traces of working areas associated with the processing of the
mined flint were identified in the areas between and around the shafts.
The four bowl barrows originally formed part of a now levelled round barrow
cemetery of at least 12 barrows, the remainder of which lie to the north
east and are not included in the scheduling. Records relating to the
archaeological investigations suggest that the barrows, which were also
levelled by modern bulldozing, had roughly circular mounds covering burials
dating to the Bronze Age. Three of the barrows were constructed over infilled
flint mine shafts, and two also contained later burials dating to the pagan
Anglo-Saxon period (AD 450-650).

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Flint mines are found where, during Neolithic and Early Bronze Age times
(c.3500-1200 BC), nodules of flint were extracted from underground seams
within chalk deposits. There is no pattern or regular form to the arrangement
of mine sites as the shafts, pits or open-cast workings are closely related to
the underlying supplies of flint rather than an overall scheme of how the mine
should be organised. In general, however, the shafts, pits and spoil heaps are
closely packed together and sometimes even abut one another. In overall size,
flint mines range from single shafts and associated works covering less than
1ha, to large mines of several hundred shafts spread over an extensive area.
Flint mines provided high quality flint for implement manufacture in the
millennia before the widespread availability of metal; the discovery of
ceremonial deposits, including carved objects, in some shafts indicates the
importance ascribed to them by early prehistoric communities. The workings
were excavated by hand with antler picks and a selection of specialist bone,
antler, wood and flint tools. Extensive flint knapping floors, areas where the
mined flint was worked, are sometimes found within and around the mine area,
along with hearths and traces of timber buildings. Evidence of secondary uses
of abandoned flint mines is fairly common, and human burials dating from
Neolithic times onwards are regularly found in the upper fills of pits and
shafts. The hollows left in the tops of infilled shafts also provided suitable
areas for occupation long after the mines themselves had gone out of use.
The distribution of flint mines is largely dictated by the extent of the Upper
Chalk, which is the geological band in which seams of flint occur. Flint mines
are known in most areas of Upper Chalk outcrops and generally occur on the
tops of hills or ridges, or along their flanking slopes, from Norfolk to
Dorset. The earliest sites, dating to the Early and Middle Neolithic period,
are clustered on the Sussex Downs.
Flint mines are a rare monument type, with only around 20 examples known
nationally. One of relatively few classes of monuments dating to all phases of
the Neolithic period, they contain evidence relating to technology and work
organisation in the period and represent the source of the most commonly used
and widespread material available for making edged tools and implements. All
well-preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). They comprise
closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds
covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a
considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as
a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit
considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including
several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier
long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them,
contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been
revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a
marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other
important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst
their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst
prehistoric communities.
The prehistoric flint mine at Blackpatch survives comparatively well, despite
levelling by modern agricultural operations, and has been shown by part
excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence
relating to its original use. The close association of the flint mine with the
broadly contemporary round barrow cemetery, and with an area of Bronze Age
settlement c.1.5km to the north west, provides important evidence for the
relationship between mining activity, settlement and burial practices in this
area of downland during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Holgate, R, Prehistoric Flint Mines, (1991), 28

Source: Historic England

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