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Waltham Down

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Camping at East Dean a few weeks back I noticed on our OS map a small collection of barrows nearby just off a trackway. One of them was evidently bigger than the others as the symbol for it was a star with a surrounding dotted line. Intrigued we set off into the woods, the setting sun behind us.

Waltham Down barrow cemetery sits on the edge of the South Downs near East Dean, consisting of an arc of four reasonably large barrows and one particularly large mound. They're quite well hidden in the deciduous forest there and it's quite magical as you wander through and one by one they're presented to you, but the trees were only planted just after World War Two, so it may have been quite open originally and easily seen, not too dissimilar to the relatively close 'Devil's Jumps' site further West just off the South Downs Way. The largest barrow in the group is slightly isolated from the other four and has been dug into at some time and almost hollowed out, giving it the appearance of a sleeping volcano. Still standing over 2m in height it appears to be unusually constructed of flint nodules, more like a cairn than a barrow, as most barrows in this area are chalk rubble and earth constructions. We wandered around for a while and followed a sort of fossilised cart track through the woods until we came out into the opening overlooking Heath Hill, then retraced our steps through the woods into the dying rays of the setting sun.
A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
2nd August 2017ce
Edited 2nd August 2017ce

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