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

Philpots Camp

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Philpots Camp is a triangular promotory fort that uses the natural cliffs to the south west and south east for defence. On the north east side there's a bank and ditch to cut the fort off on its sandstone spur of the High Weald. But possibly more excitingly, the overhanging rocks of the cliffs were used much earlier, as rock shelters in Mesolithic times. A lot of flint knapping evidently went on here, and many pieces of flint were found at a large rock called variously 'Great upon Little' and 'Big upon Little'. Geology and weather have created that 'precarious undermined boulder' look - hence the name. According to this page at 'Sussex Archaeology and Folklore' :
"The stone was a great attraction for tourists at some point and there are initials carved wherever a hand could reach, dating anywhere from the 17th century, with initials being carved over others and the effects of the weather leaving the possibility of earlier dates, indeed Thomas Pownall in 1778 tell us that the stone "was covered with multitudes of names and initials of all dates". The top of the rock next to it is easily accessible allowing the brave to jump across to the top of Big-Upon-Little. The author of this page found copper coins left there like some sort of votive offering."
I also found this, which mentions the stone.
A man of 84 years of age told me that he had seen a book which told all about the rock called Great-upon-Little, but that it did not mention what he had heard people say, that the rock had formerly been an object of worship, and to touch it was death. (1905.)
p 163 in
Scraps of Folklore Collected by John Philipps Emslie
C. S. Burne
Folklore, Vol. 26, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1915), pp. 153-170.

Were local people such as the man above responding to speculation they'd heard from people who'd found flints, etc, or local antiquarian's ideas? Or were they responding directly to the strangeness of the geology - something akin to Julian Cope's and some modern archaeologists' ideas of 'proto temples' and 'sacred landscapes'?

The webpage above has a photo of Great upon Little, and pf another stone with carvings and folklore - the ominously named 'Executioner's Rock'.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th December 2006ce
Edited 6th March 2013ce

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