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

High Rocks

Cave / Rock Shelter


Just off a minor road linking the village of Groombridge (and the B2110) with Royal Tunbridge Wells (and the A264 and A26)

Arrived at this site just after sunset on the way back to West Sussex after a look at the Addington/ Chestnuts Longbarrow and Coldrum.

We sneaked in through the open turnstile (You are supposed to pay £2 at the bar of the High Rocks Hotel to view the site, but as it was nearly dark we thought this wasn't good value!)

These certainly are some huge and impressive rock formations, overhangs and caves, and all the more atmospheric in the failing light. I thought I had seen some big old sarsens at Coldrum earlier in the day, but these great natural forms are giants compared to those.

Excavations in 1954 and 1956 revealed a range of microlith (small flint tool) types and flint knapping debris apparently associated with areas of charcoal and fire cracked flint. These are presumably the remains of fires or hearths, though whether they were contained in an independent structure, or whether the overhang itself provided enough protection is unclear. High Rocks has been carbon dated to around 4500BC, quite late in the Mesolithic. Nothing of the Mesolithic levels themselves can be seen, but you can get a good idea of the nature of the rock shelters that nestle at the base of the cliff.
The overhangs apparently provided shelter for a variety of Neolithic and Bronze Age hunting parties as well.

You can walk through the fissures in the rocks, and then ascend one of the rock cut stairways to traverse the top of the cliff over rickety looking wooden bridges. There is an Iron Age enclosure/ hill fort on top of the escarpment, but we didn't check that out this trip.

We thought we'd be clever and get back to the car park without going through the main gate, but soon discovered that they have done a pretty good job of fencing in the site, so if you go in the day you may well have to get your £2 out I am afraid!
danielspaniel Posted by danielspaniel
31st May 2005ce
Edited 5th May 2006ce

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