Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Remains of Exceat parish church: part of the former medieval settlement of Exceat, 690m south south west of Westdean Manor

A Scheduled Monument in Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 50.7698 / 50°46'11"N

Longitude: 0.1594 / 0°9'33"E

OS Eastings: 552365.118168

OS Northings: 98907.829126

OS Grid: TV523989

Mapcode National: GBR LSR.R3Q

Mapcode Global: FRA C761.RXH

Entry Name: Remains of Exceat parish church: part of the former medieval settlement of Exceat, 690m south south west of Westdean Manor

Scheduled Date: 20 March 1975

Last Amended: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019283

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32279

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Cuckmere Valley

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Dean All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the remains of a medieval parish church situated on the
eastern edge of the Cuckmere Valley, on the summit of a chalk hill which forms
part of the Sussex Downs.

The east-west aligned church measured up to around 17m in length and 10m wide
and survives in the form of buried remains and slight earthworks visible on
the ground surface. Part excavation in 1913 revealed the stone dressed, flint
and chalk rubble footings of a rectangular nave, entered on its northern side,
with an apsidal chancel and a square south porch. A small part of the nave has
been disturbed by the construction of an inscribed memorial stone towards its
eastern end, following completion of the excavation. The church has been dated
by its architectural features to the 11th century, and documentary sources
indicate that the structure had been demolished at some stage before the
mid-15th century. The excavation also revealed the presence of at least two
burials below the nave and chancel, and it is likely that further burials
survive outside the church, beyond the area of the monument, as well as traces
of the associated medieval settlement.

Historical records, including an entry in the Domesday Book, suggest that the
medieval settlement of Exceat was in existence by the 12th century and that in
1460 the parish was depopulated, consisting of only two inhabited houses.
Although settlement remains on Exceat Hill have been levelled by past modern
ploughing, traces of the settlement may survive as buried features in the
vicinity of the church.

The memorial stone, constructed within the area of the nave, is excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern
Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong
contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs,
where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the
Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the
ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the
coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire
some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of
dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval.
The Coastlands local region extends from a flat plain inland of Selsey Bill to
low chalk cliffs east of Brighton. The roots of settlement are extremely
ancient, and late 18th century maps suggest a balanced mixture of farmsteads,
hamlets and villages, concentrated in the western portion of the region.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries,
and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of
understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the
Norman conquest.

A parish church is a building, usually rectangular in plan, designed for
congregational worship and is generally divided into two main parts: the nave,
which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main
domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. The main periods of
parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries, and most
medieval churches were subsequently rebuilt and modified on a number of
occasions. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution
reflects the density of the population at the time they were founded. A survey
of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide an important insight into medieval and later
population levels and religious activity.

The remains of Exceat parish church form part of an example of the nucleated
form of medieval rural settlement predominant in the Coastlands local region.
Part excavation has indicated that the monument contains archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to the original form, development and
abandonment of the church, as a core component of the medieval settlement.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Budgen, Rev W, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excete and its Parish Church, , Vol. 58, (1916), 138-170
Burleigh, G R, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in An Introduction To Deserted Medieval Villages In East Sussex, , Vol. 58, (1973), 66

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.