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Mount Caburn

Hillfort

<b>Mount Caburn</b>Posted by A R CaneImage © A R Cane
Also known as:
  • The Caburn

Nearest Town:Lewes (4km W)
OS Ref (GB):   TQ444089 / Sheet: 198
Latitude:50° 51' 39.46" N
Longitude:   0° 3' 7.31" E

Added by pure joy

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Fieldnotes

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18/03/2016 - Walking over from Alfriston to Lewes we had only one chance for a coffee shop and that was when we passed through Glynde. Our luck was in as the Little Cottage Tea Rooms is located just across the road from the footpath up to Mount Caburn. Refuelled on coffee and carrot cake, we made the short but steepish climb up to the hillfort. I'd seen the hillfort from the train the day before and it had looked a good one. Crossing over the defences, we made our way over to the bench on the south side for a sit. This really is a nice hillfort and well worth a visit. The location and view is very good. We headed north to Cliffe Hill and then down into Lewes. There looks to be quite a few good walks round here that take in the hillfort. Top area. thelonious Posted by thelonious
26th March 2016ce
Edited 26th March 2016ce

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.
Cursuswalker Posted by Cursuswalker
5th March 2006ce
Edited 6th March 2006ce

Folklore

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If you make seven circles of Mount Caburn the Devil will jump out at you - according to a local chap this tale was seriously believed c.1914 when he was a boy.

Apparently cited in a letter to? Jacqueline Simpson in 1973, and mentioned in a footnote in
Circling as an Entrance to the Otherworld
Samuel Pyeatt Menefee
Folklore, Vol. 96, No. 1. (1985), pp. 3-20.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th November 2006ce
Edited 28th November 2006ce

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. pure joy Posted by pure joy
21st March 2003ce

Links

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5000 Midsummer Days


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.
danielspaniel Posted by danielspaniel
11th March 2005ce
Edited 19th May 2005ce

Northern Earth


The Caburn - Hillfort or ritual enclosure? Article by Mike Haigh.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th March 2005ce
Edited 22nd May 2016ce