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Long Down prehistoric flint mine

A Scheduled Monument in Eartham, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8762 / 50°52'34"N

Longitude: -0.6776 / 0°40'39"W

OS Eastings: 493134.193831

OS Northings: 109357.685247

OS Grid: SU931093

Mapcode National: GBR FHN.X3S

Mapcode Global: FRA 96GS.HTD

Entry Name: Long Down prehistoric flint mine

Scheduled Date: 23 September 1957

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017521

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29295

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Eartham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Eartham St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a prehistoric flint mine situated on a chalk spur which
projects to the south west from a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The mine survives
mainly as an area of hummocky ground and contains at least 50 partly infilled
shafts. These are represented by up to 1m deep, roughly circular hollows with
diameters ranging from 3m to 15m. The monument was partly excavated in 1955-57
and 1985, when several shafts were investigated. Analysis of flint implements,
antler picks and fragments of pottery found within and around the shafts
indicated that the mine was in use during the Neolithic period and the Bronze
Age. Flanking the shafts are irregular spoil heaps up to 2m high. Traces of
the working areas where the mined flint was processed have been identified in
the areas between and around the earthworks.
Ploughing of the northern and eastern parts of the monument in the years
following excavation has partly levelled the earthworks, and the shafts
survive in these areas as mainly below ground features. A group of lynchets,
or cultivation boundaries, which overlie the earlier flint mine, have been
dated to the medieval period. The monument was surveyed by the Royal
Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1994.
The modern fences which cross the monument, and the modern concrete base of
the now removed water tank situated within the south eastern corner of the
monument, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features 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

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.

Although it has been partly levelled by ploughing, the flint mine on Long Down
survives well. Part excavation and detailed survey have confirmed that it
retains important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating
to its original use.

Source: Historic England


RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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