Ancient Monuments

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Multiple cross dyke on Heyshott Down

A Scheduled Monument in Heyshott, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9412 / 50°56'28"N

Longitude: -0.729 / 0°43'44"W

OS Eastings: 489394.33825

OS Northings: 116516.347865

OS Grid: SU893165

Mapcode National: GBR DFH.VY5

Mapcode Global: FRA 96CM.7TY

Entry Name: Multiple cross dyke on Heyshott Down

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1963

Last Amended: 7 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015958

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29284

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Heyshott

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Heyshott St James

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a north-south aligned, multiple cross dyke constructed
across a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The dyke, which
coincides with the boundaries of Heyshott, Singleton and Cocking parishes, has
four roughly parallel ditches, the largest and longest of which lies towards
the centre of the monument. This is up to 8m wide and 2.25m deep and runs for
approximately 193m across the ridge. The ditches are flanked by banks which
survive to heights of between 0.5m-2m. To the south, the largest ditch and
bank ends in a sharply defined, rounded terminal. Elsewhere, the earthworks
fade out gradually as the ground slopes away. Subsequent activities, including
long-term use of the South Downs Way and a track which cross the northern part
of the monument, and modern ploughing of the north eastern edge of the dyke,
have levelled some sections of the earthworks, although the ditches will
survive here as infilled, buried features.
Overlying the cross dyke is a later parish boundary bank dating to the
post-medieval period, constructed on the border between Singleton and Cocking
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.

The multiple cross dyke on Heyshott Down survives well, despite some
subsequent disturbance of the earthworks, and is a rare example of the more
complex form of this type of monument. It will retain important archaeological
remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction and original
purpose of the monument. The cross dyke lies about 20m to the east of a Bronze
Age bowl barrow, the subject of a separate scheduling. These monuments are
broadly contemporary and their close association will provide evidence for the
relationship between land division and funerary practices in this area of
downland during the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England

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