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The Trundle hillfort, causewayed enclosure and associated remains at St Roche's Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Singleton, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8923 / 50°53'32"N

Longitude: -0.7545 / 0°45'16"W

OS Eastings: 487697.868683

OS Northings: 111055.339935

OS Grid: SU876110

Mapcode National: GBR DG1.VG1

Mapcode Global: FRA 969R.3X9

Entry Name: The Trundle hillfort, causewayed enclosure and associated remains at St Roche's Hill

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1933

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018034

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31201

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Singleton

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: East Dean, Singleton and West Dean

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort dating to the Iron Age, an
earlier Neolithic causewayed enclosure, a later medieval chapel, post-medieval
post mill and the remains of military use during World War II. These features
survive as earthworks, in buried form, and as a ruined structure above ground,
and are situated on the summit of a chalk hill on the southern edge of the
Sussex Downs. This location enjoys panoramic views across the surrounding
landscape in which the hilltop, with its encompassing Iron Age earthworks, is
a prominent feature.

The polygonal hillfort encloses an area of 5.66ha, and its defences survive in
the form of a bank measuring approximately 9m wide and up to 1.8m high,
surrounded by a ditch and a counterscarp bank. A slight quarry ditch follows
the inner edge of the bank. The ramparts have been disturbed in places by
later tracks, marl pits, and trenches associated with the reuse of the
hillfort during World War II. The fort was entered by two opposing gateways to
the north east and south west, which survive as causewayed gaps in the
ramparts flanked by inward turning banks. Part excavation of these entrances
in 1928 and 1930 revealed several phases of reconstruction of the timber
gateways during the Iron Age. Further investigation and an earthwork survey
have revealed that the hillfort was in use as a settlement site during this
period, indicated by rubbish pits, traces of contemporary building foundations
in the form of post holes and at least 15 roughly circular platforms,
measuring between 5.5m and 8.5m in diameter. Finds included substantial
amounts of Iron Age pottery, quern fragments, animal bones, and a few sherds
of Romano-British pottery indicating that the hillfort may have been reused
during the later, Roman period.

A well-preserved section of an associated linear earthwork, dating to an early
period in the original use of the hillfort, extends at right angles away from
the south western ramparts for around 15m. This has a ditch 3m wide and 0.3m
deep, flanked on either side by a low bank.

The main Iron Age defences enclose and partly overlie the remains of an
earlier Neolithic causewayed enclosure, first identified by aerial photography
in 1925. Radiocarbon analysis indicates that the enclosure dates to around
3300 BC, and environmental evidence suggests that it was constructed in an
area already extensively cleared of trees. An earthwork survey of 1995 has
revealed that the Neolithic enclosure was defined by a pair of concentric
banks with outer ditches surrounded by at least four less regular bank and
ditch circuits. The area enclosed by the central circuit measures around
0.95ha and access to the interior is by way of a simple entrance to the north
east. The ditch was constructed as a series of unequal`U'-shaped segments, up
to 7m wide and 1.4m deep, which have become partly infilled. These are
separated by frequent causeways. The ditch is flanked by an internal bank,
separated from it by a 1m wide berm, which rises to a maximum height of 1.6m.
An angled section of an outer ditch of the causewayed enclosure underlies and
extends beyond the northern side of the later Iron Age ramparts. Part
excavation of this ditch section in 1928 showed it to be `V'-shaped and almost
2.7m deep.

A further group of contemporary, associated earthworks has been revealed by
aerial photography around 265m to the west of the Neolithic enclosure. At
least three features have been identified, including a linear earthwork,
approximately 250m of which is visible, curving across the western slope of
the hill. It runs parallel to the western side of the causewayed enclosure and
it is considered that it may be a continuation of the outer circuit. For most
of its length this feature survives as a buried feature visible as a cropmark
on aerial photographs. To the east, slight features resembling ditch segments
are visible. Another linear feature, which also survives as a cropmark,
extends from this area towards the south western entrance of the later
hillfort with which it is considered to be contemporary.

Later reuse of the hilltop is demonstrated by the remains of a small chapel
dedicated to the 14th century French saint, St Roche, renowned for his
miraculous powers of curing sufferers from the plague, and after whom the hill
is named. The chapel lies near the centre of the monument and survives as a
roughly circular mound, measuring about 21m in diameter and 1.2m high,
situated at the southern end of a surrounding, NNW-SSE aligned, quadrangular
enclosure. The enclosure measures 60m by 50m, and is bounded on its southern
side by the inner circuit of the Neolithic enclosure, and by slight scarps
elsewhere. Situated on the mound are the buried remains of two adjacent
rectangular buildings, considered to represent the site of the chapel and a
later structure. Records suggest that the chapel fell into disuse by around
1570. A modern Ordnance Survey trig point is situated on raised ground on the
south eastern edge of the mound on the site of an early trigonometrical
station erected in 1791.

The post-medieval postmill, destroyed by lightning in 1773, survives as a low
circular mound about 11m in diameter with a central depression, to the north
east of the chapel mound. Historical records and cartographic evidence suggest
that the hilltop was also used as the site of a beacon in the 16th to 18th
centuries, and a masonic lodge and gibbet were sited here during the 18th and
19th centuries.

A large number of fox holes and slit trenches were cut into the ramparts
during World War II and a nissen-type corrugated iron shelter, the concrete
foundations of which survive, was erected in the northern part of the
hillfort. Two VHF Direction Finding Stations were also sited within the
western and north eastern sectors of the monument during World War II. Each
station contained four wooden masts, one of which survives in the north
eastern compound. Buildings associated with the original use of the radio
stations also survive, and these, along with modern masts erected within the
compounds, are used by a modern civil communication network. The radio
stations are now enclosed by modern fences.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the surfaces
of all modern tracks, the modern bench and its concrete foundation, all modern
gates, fences, stiles, drain heads, all structures associated with the radio
stations (including the surviving wooden mast), their foundations, and the
Ordnance Survey trig point; the ground beneath all these features is, however,

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

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Causewayed enclosures were constructed mainly during the middle part of the
Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but they often continued in use into later
periods. Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally,
mainly in southern and eastern England. They vary considerably in size (from 1
to 28 hectares) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including
settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all
comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric
rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives
its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated
causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to
survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the
few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.

The large univallate hillfort and Neolithic causewayed enclosure on St Roche's
Hill survive well, despite some later disturbance. Investigations have
indicated that the causewayed enclosure may have been the first to be
constructed in Sussex, and it pre-dates the main period of construction of
this type of monument by some 300 years. The close association of the hillfort
and enclosure with other prehistoric monuments in the area, including cross
dykes, burial mounds and the nearby Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Court
Hill, will provide evidence for the relationship between settlement, burial
and land division during the later prehistoric period. Part excavation and a
detailed survey of the earthworks on St Roche's Hill have shown that the
monument retains archaeological and environmental information relating to its
use over a period of at least five thousand years. The evidence for reuse of
this prominent location as a site for worship during the medieval period, and
its continued use during the post-medieval period and World War II,
demonstrates the strategic importance of the hilltop into modern times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
RCHME, , Causewayed enclosure and The Trundle hillfort on St Roche's Hill, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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