Mount Caburn means a lot to many people in the town of Lewes I think.
It was the nearest settlement of any size to the site that Lewes was eventually founded on by the Saxons and can be seen from much of the town.
The skyline of the hill from the town means that the ditch and bank of the fort seems to cut it off from the rest of the ridge on which it stands. The hill the fort was built upon is fairly distinctive anyway, being a dome with broad slopes sweeping down from it to the south, while it seems almost to be the head of a giant downland animal, the rest of the downland ridge that it forms part of trailing behind the hill to the north. This ridge is the only block of the South Downs that is not a part of the main ridge along which the South Downs Way runs, having been cut off from it by the Glynde Reach river, that you will see joining the river Ouse to the south west.
When you approach the fort from the north the ditch and bank are very prominent, but the part of the hill still inside the fort protrudes above it still, giving an impression of a round hat, or, one might say, a flattened Dalek's head!
Once inside the fort one seems simply to be on a hill, as the whole ditch and bank becomes far less obvious. This is particularly true on the southern side, where the defences are far less spectacular. I have always been told this is because on this side any attacker would have had quite a climb first. I'm not entirely convinced though, as this does not take account of attackers circling from the northern side. For me, the steep hill suggests some erosion of the defences on this side, though I have no evidence for this either way.
In any case the view is very impressive for a hill that is not actually that high (150m above sea-level), particularly of the downland ridge to the south. Firle Beacon and Windover Hill, home to the Long Man of Wilmington, can also be seen to the south east.
An Iron Age hillfort crowns this hill, traditionally formed from a clod of earth thrown here by the Devil while feverishly digging out the Devil’s Dyke. Another legend says that a giant called Gill who reputedly lived on the Downs would throw his hammer from the summit of the Caburn. Somewhere in the hill a silver coffin and a knight in golden armour are said to be buried.
Compelling little leaflet about the history of the Caburn.
The story is told as a series of six "windows in time",
falling on midsummer days throughout the history of the site
and its people, from 3,000 BC to the present day.