The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Babylon Down

Round Barrow(s)


I’m going to make a plea here for The South Downs Way to become a site in it’s own right on TMA much like The Ridgeway is. On New Years day Mrs Cane and I walked from the car park near Combe Hill enclosure along the final stretch of the SDW down to Beachy Head. Now I’ve walked this section before, but on that occasion it was dusk and though I realised there were barrows and cross dykes dotted along the escarpment overlooking Eastbourne, I didn’t quite appreciate just how many there were. In a low bright January sun you can pick out far more easily the sheer profusion of Bronze Age handiwork in the landscape as the walk progresses. I’ve divided the barrows up according to their most local names, as there is no overall place name for this area, unless you name it the ‘Eastbourne Escarpment’, or indeed, ‘The South Downs Way’. So starting in the north just south of The Combe Hill Neolithic enclosure we have Babylon Down, Bourne Hill, Foxholes Brow, Foxholes, Beachy Brow, Eastbourne Downs Golf Club (rubbish name I admit!) and Pashley. Indeed this is a regular barrow cemetery stretching about 4 miles with quite a variation in barrow type from quite large bowl barrows, disc barrows and even conjoined examples down to the barely visible ‘trampled into the track’ type. Three to four thousand years ago they must have presented quite a spectacle if you were looking up from the flood plain below at this great range of hills as it wound its way down to the sea to come to an abrupt end at Beachy Head. It’s interesting too, to speculate as to why there are so many here anyway. Perhaps because it’s a terminus to the South Downs and possibly a trading point for goods coming in and out of the country and therefore of quite high importance and with a large population? Maybe because water was sacred to our ancestors and the area beneath the escarpment was flooded for a great deal of the time? Or perhaps they were just setting a precedent, as Eastbourne in relatively modern times has been a place to retire to and die! A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
10th January 2013ce
Edited 10th January 2013ce

Comments (3)

Certainly worth a more in depth look, Mr Cane. Sitting above a flood plain is an interesting point. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
10th January 2013ce
The name Babylon Down is great, could be a Prince Far I album title.

The whole area is obviously pretty important, but perhaps the uncommonly large number of barrows means it's been less destroyed than other cemeteries in more agriculturally messed-with areas? (That's not to detract, in fact more of a reason to cherish the survival.)
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th January 2013ce
Yes, that's probably true, but ploughing has always been quite minimal on the South Downs due to the thinness of the topsoil and so one of the reasons why so many barrows, etc. have survived is down to sheep farming with it's slightly less destructive practices. The high number of earthworks is quite astounding with many more scattered across the surrounding hills and deans and you do get a kind of 'grand finale' feeling as you get down to Beachy Head and nearby Eastbourne.

Oh, and Chant Down Babylon is a remix album covering songs by Bob Marley & The Wailers!
A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
13th January 2013ce
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