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Neolithic causewayed enclosure and associated remains on Court Hill

A Scheduled Monument in East Dean, West Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9166 / 50°54'59"N

Longitude: -0.7243 / 0°43'27"W

OS Eastings: 489773.386095

OS Northings: 113786.17007

OS Grid: SU897137

Mapcode National: GBR DFW.HP7

Mapcode Global: FRA 96CP.9N2

Entry Name: Neolithic causewayed enclosure and associated remains on Court Hill

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1977

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018037

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31204

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: East Dean

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

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

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Details

The monument includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and an associated
earthwork on Court Hill, situated at the end of a chalk spur which projects to
the south west from the main ridge of the Sussex Downs. This location enjoys
extensive views of the surrounding downland landscape.

The enclosure on Court Hill was partly excavated in 1982 when it was dated, by
radiocarbon analysis, to around 3300 BC. Environmental evidence collected
during the investigations suggests that the enclosure was constructed in a
small woodland clearing, and finds included fragments of Neolithic pottery and
worked flint. A survey in 1995 revealed that the roughly circular enclosure is
defined by a bank flanked by an external ditch of causewayed construction. A
slight berm separates the ditch from the bank and traces of an outer bank were
identified on the north western side of the enclosure. Access to the interior,
which covers an area of about 2.3ha, was by way of a simple entrance on the
north eastern side.

The earthworks have been partly levelled by modern ploughing and survive
mainly in the form of a slight scarp and as buried features visible as
cropmarks on aerial photographs. A more pronounced section of the north
eastern earthworks survives below the summit of the hill as a bank up to about
0.4m high and 6m wide, and a partly infilled ditch up to 5m wide and 0.3m
deep. The investigations revealed that the original ditch bottom still
survives at a depth of up to 1.1m below ground. The earthworks have been
partly disturbed by later tracks and by windblown trees.

Aerial photographs have revealed an associated south west-north east aligned,
crescent-shaped earthwork extending across the north western slope of Court
Hill, around 25m to the north of the main enclosure earthworks. It was partly
excavated in 1982 and is considered to represent a contemporary settlement
boundary. The earthworks survive as a slight bank which is flanked on its
southern, uphill side by an infilled ditch of causewayed construction. House
platforms, burial mounds and a range of prehistoric artefacts were discovered
in the vicinity of the earthwork in 1951.

Finds of pottery and flint tools indicate that Court Hill was reused for
farming in the later prehistoric and Romano-British periods. The activities of
these farmers is demonstrated by the slight remains of south west-north east
aligned strip lynchets which mainly extend across the southern and north
western slopes of the hill beyond the monument. Part of a lynchet overlies the
earlier, Neolithic earthworks to the north west and this section is therefore
included in the scheduling.

Cartographic evidence suggests that the plantation on Court Hill, and the
earthen embankment around its eastern edge, date to a period of 18th century
landscaping on the Goodwood Estates.

The modern Ordnance Survey trig pillar and all modern fences which cross the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in
southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500
years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also
continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to
70 acres) 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.

Despite disturbance by modern cultivation, investigations have shown that both
the Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Court Hill and the associated settlement
earthwork to the north will retain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The
close association between the two earthworks, and the presence of other
prehistoric monuments in the area, including cross dykes, burial mounds and
another causewayed enclosure, provide evidence for the relationship between
settlement, land division and burial practices during the later prehistoric
period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Court Hill, West Sussex, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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