I was going to post about Whitehawk more than a year ago after I volunteered for the dig which took place there in August 2014. I refrained from doing so at the time as I was supposed to be photographing (for Brighton Museum) the ‘more interesting artefacts’ which they hoped to uncover in the process of the dig. Sadly, despite intensive digging in 3 separate areas on Whitehawk Hill nothing particularly interesting was found. Geo-physics had shown up some anomalies on the Southern side of the hill which the archaeologists hoped might be a fifth outer ring, but this proved to be unfounded. Most of the very small things found were pieces of worked flints (possibly Neolithic), masses of broken glass, the inevitable willow-pattern ceramics shards and miscellaneous bits of ironware which were probably bits of broken gardening tools (most of the hill has been given over to allotments in the past and still is today). I personally found a 1945 farthing which back then would have bought you a whole house in Brighton. The other thing that was found in abundance were pieces of relatively modern cars and scooters which is quite interesting in itself. The practice of sacrificing expensive offerings to the gods on this site was still happening in the here and now, a clearly continuing tradition, except now they like to torch them first rather than burying them or flinging them into a watery place.
As stated in older posts there’s not much to suggest that you’re standing in a Causewayed Enclosure when you’re up there as most of it has been encroached upon by modern progress, allotments and the enlargement of Brighton Race Course, but here and there you’ll notice a slight undulation, a small squeak to remind you of the sheer scale of the site. The positioning of it too, is wonderful and a true focal point, commanding expansive views over the sea and South Downs of which it forms part. The panoramic images posted here were commissioned recently by Brighton Museum for educational purposes to highlight the importance of this truly ancient and wonderful place.
i would agree with a previous poster that it can be hard to work was going on a whitehawk. there has been a lot of development, with a housing estate, allotments and a radio tower covering much of the hill. it's unfortunate, because whitehawk really is a magical place.
i would surmise that hollingbury hillfort was where people lived and whitehawk was where they partied. with the river in between the sites, down in the valley.
whitehawk has a strange ceremonial feel which you can still catch if you walk down beside the racecourse towards the sea. the racecourse seems to have been built upon or next to the old cursus, as a it curves round the top of sheepcote valley.
i found dave bangs' book 'Whitehawk Hill. Where the Turf Meets the Surf: A Landscape History & Natural History of Brighton's Most Remarkable Downland Survival' mighty helpful in getting a feel for the hill, but unfortunately i think it is now out of print.
basically, the radio mast stands about dead centre in what used to be the henge or circular fort, with some rings around it. a couple of patches of a few of the rings remain next to manor hill road. and that's about it.
I've walked my dogs several days a week for 6 years around the area and couldn't tell you for sure where the hillfort is... there has been so much other landscaping in the area especially the racecourse and allotments. A ridge that may be the hillfort is visible from the north of manor road and is disected by the road. Ancient pathways are kind of visible along the ridges of the downs around here though, notably Juggs Road that has been used up to more recent times (when Brighton was still a fishing village) for taking fish across the downs from Brighton to Lewes.
I doubt there's much left to see of this Neolithic causewayed camp, seeing as how it's surrounded by houses and the racecourse. It was excavated in the 30s and the detail that interested me was that two fossilised sea urchins had been buried with some people. Folklore has it that fossil sea urchins are 'fairy loaves' or 'fairy stones'. I guess they are pretty strange - obviously not ordinary rocks, but they look like something living or manmade. Also without their spines they bear little resemblence to anything alive that you're familiar with, particularly if you're not living by the sea (like at the Five Knolls in Bedfordshire). I've also read that people have kept them in their houses so that their loaflike similarity would ensure the occupants would never go without bread (or food, no doubt). They were also kept in dairies to stop the milk going sour.
Of course, none of this need have any relevance to the reason these prehistoric people took them to their graves. They presumably serve no hands-on practical purpose? so we have to assume that they did hold a symbolic value of some kind (even if it could have been merely that they were weird and interesting?).