Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cross dyke on Steep Down, 600m north east of Titch Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Sompting, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8496 / 50°50'58"N

Longitude: -0.3413 / 0°20'28"W

OS Eastings: 516864.646383

OS Northings: 106874.828745

OS Grid: TQ168068

Mapcode National: GBR HM4.QJV

Mapcode Global: FRA B65V.GW0

Entry Name: Cross dyke on Steep Down, 600m north east of Titch Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018565

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31214

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Sompting

Built-Up Area: Shoreham-by-Sea

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Sompting St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the south western part of a cross dyke constructed
across a chalk spur which projects to the south east from a hill which forms
part of the Sussex Downs. The monument is one of a pair of cross dykes on
Steep Down; the other is situated around 700m to the north and is the subject
of a separate scheduling.
The roughly south west-north east aligned, gently curving cross dyke survives
as an approximately 346m long ditch up to about 6m wide and 1m deep, flanked
to the south east by a bank up to about 5m wide and 0.7m high. Towards the
north eastern end of the monument, a short section of the earthworks has been
disturbed by a track which crosses the dyke at an angle, and the south eastern
edge of the earthwork has been disturbed by past modern ploughing.
The cross dyke continues across the spur to the north east, but this section
has been heavily disturbed by past modern landfill operations and is therefore
not included in the scheduling.

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 cross dyke on Steep Down, 600m north east of Titch Hill Farm survives
comparatively well, despite some later disturbance, and will contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the original function of
the monument and its construction. This cross dyke together with the one 700m
to the north and other broadly contemporary monuments in this area of
downland, provide important information about the use of the landscape for
settlement, burial and agriculture during the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Frere, S, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in A Survey of Archaeology near Lancing, , Vol. 81, (1940), 150-158

Source: Historic England

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