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Fieldnotes by danielspaniel

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Tegdown Hill Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This site consists of a saucer barrow and three bowl barrows.

Be warned, you will enter the field and get all excited when you think the old dew pond is the saucer barrow - it isn't.

The edge of the saucer barrow almost touches the dewpond bank and is located just to the south of it.

This is the first time I've seen a saucer barrow and it is basically a henge like circular bank with some humps and bumps in the center. It has obviously been very truncated by the plough. It has a much larger circumference than your average Sussex Bronze Age barrow.

The 3 bowl barrows are so faint as to almost be invisible, but are just about discernible.

A lone sarsen sits by the style at the southern entrance to the field.

Pudding Bag Wood Prehistoric Linear Boundary (Dyke)

Easily visible from Pudding Bag Wood Bowl Barrow

Pudding Bag Wood Bowl Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

Nice spot this, and always unusual to visit barrows and cross dykes that have had woodland planted around them (this site would have originally been on open downland)

Look South West to the Pudding Bag Wood Prehistoric Linear Boundary

Chanctonbury Ring (Hillfort)

If you park in the car park to the NE of the ring, it is a long climb up a 'bostal' path, and then you double back on yourself as you turn left at the top onto the South Downs Way. This is a bit of a drag, but better than trying to scramble more directly up the steep, wooded slopes. We tried coming down the 'quick way' but soon realised the only way down was on your backside!
Alternatively you could park to the SW and take the South Downs Way east to the ring.
I must admit to having a slightly strange sense of foreboding as we made the climb and I am not sure why. Maybe it was the vehicles we had seen parked up on the hill, or the spooky local folklore I had read (see links).

When you get up here, you are rewarded with a fantastic view. Cissbury Ring and flint mines to the South with the blue sea as a backdrop and Wolstonbury jutting out sphinx-like to the East. An excellent vantage point.
We were disappointed to discover 3 4WD's and parked next to the Ring, with their drivers were packing up after a nights camping. When I spotted them from the bottom of the hill I was expecting a wild Solstice free festival, but it was just some SUV driving muppets who didn't even give us the time of day. Quite what these individuals were doing up here on the midsummer's eve I don't know (black magic to bring petrol prices down perhaps?), but how lazy and disrespectful to bring your stinking vehicles across an area of outstanding natural beauty and park them next to an ancient monument. Needless to say we were happy to see them trundle off and then we had the place to ourselves.

Most of the beech trees planted by Charles Goring in 1706 were indeed flattened in the storms of 1987. The ones that remain are on the south bank mostly, and provide some delicious shade. The interior of the Ring has been replanted, but is still quite scrubby and immature.
We were surprised to find a barbed wire fence around the interior, but there is a well worn entrance at the east (close to the original entrance).
I am always interested in places that the R*man's decided to build temples on. Maiden Castle is one of the most famous examples, and it always suggests an existing sacred function for the site.

I ventured into the interior and it is a bit of a creepy wood with evidence of lots of campfires.
It is so overgrown I couldn't see any evidence of the temple, which is apparently only a few inches below the surface. I did manage to get a bit lost in there and had a brief 'Blair Witch' moment when I was convinced I wasn't going to find my way out! I now put this down to the 8% Cider and an overactive imagination.

There are also a couple of interesting cross ridge dykes, bowl, saucer, platform barrows and hlaews (rare Saxon Burial mounds) Click the Magic plug in on this page for more info on their locations.
Check out the links on this page for more background and go and feel the vibes of this absorbing place for yourself.

Wolstonbury Bowl Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

Like so many, the apparent bowl barrow on Wolstonbury has been raided and flattened by the plough. It lies on farm land just to the east of the main track that leads to the hill from the south, at the kink in the 'cross ridge dyke'.
While it seems to be sited across the northern bank of the linear ditch and so appears later than the dyke itself, this may be a false impression. The barrow has been so badly disrupted (presumably by an unrecorded antiquarian investigation) that it is possible that excavated soil has been thrown over the linear earthwork.
It is also possible that the round mound could represent the mutilated remains of a later fire beacon mound. (But let's keep that quiet until someone proves it, eh?)

Wolstonbury Cross Ridge Dyke

This 'dyke' cuts across the southern spur neck of Wolstonbury Hill, and this morning I find myself wondering where the main point of access was (if one originally existed) on this linear earthwork. Could it be at the central kink in the dyke, where a round barrow now sits on the Northern bank, or the area where the modern track bisects the bank? I walk down the ditch to where the dyke peters out and the slope gets steeper. The date of construction remains unknown. It could relate to a late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age period of cultivation. Or, it could represent a 'defensive outwork' to the (speculative) period of defensive remodelling of Enclosure 'C' on top of the hill. As yet, nobody knows. I turn back and follow the ditch up to the 'barrow'.

Broadmayne Bank Barrow

Now this is a barrow! I've just got to walk the length of this thing, and
I am rewarded when I reach the other end and a deer springs out from behind one the two round barrows that sit next to each other just to the North of this incredible monument.
She runs through the crops to the hedge while I stand, exalted, snapping away like a madman, trying to capture a moment I should just be in, but I suppose that is the modern condition!
These 2 north flanking barrows aren't shown on the OS map, but the round barrows at both ends are. The road runs between the east end of the bank and the round barrow at that end. This is Chalky Road, which interestingly runs straight up to Broadmayne and the stones/ earthworks there.

Looking around:
Barrows, Barrows everywhere!
An important spot,
I think.

Culliford Tree Barrow (Long Barrow)

This tree covered round barrow lies between the road and the east side of Came Wood itself. (It actually lies to the West of the road, and I hadn't read Rhiannons folklore post so didn't listen for fairy music - it was too early in the day anyway!)

This is an atmospheric place and I feel compelled to sit awhile and soak it up. Although I have mixed feelings about the old fashion of planting barrows and earthworks with a crown of trees, they certainly add to the sacred feel of this site, encasing me in a green chamber on this June morning.

The crater in the top tells of a 'volcano' excavation;
In 1858 four internments were discovered, one of which had a necklace of amber beads, two of which had gold casings.

Look East and you face towards a line of 5 round barrows, with the bank barrow just beyond.
Many carvings on the trees here, the earliest I can spot is 1939. Needless to say, I don't add to them!
Think I'll go and have a peep through the trees at the wooded long barrow down the path to the North.

Chalbury (Hillfort)

I approached this fort from the disused quarry on Coombe Valley Road to the west of the fort.
Possibly not the best way as it involves scrambling up sheer cliffs and over a fence.
It was obvious others had come this way though, and it did give me the feeling of being an invading Roman (which I quickly shook off, with a shudder!). If you carry on further up Coombe Valley Road there are footpaths for a gentler approach.

It's a cute, roughly triangular little enclosure of about 4 hectares and was protected by a single ditch and a rampart of limestone slabs, obtained from quarry ditches inside the fort.
There is an entrance on the South East side and many hut circles were discovered inside the ramparts that suggest the site was intensively occupied around 450BC. I am just going to have a peek over the western ramparts and then get back to my bike. This fort looks cool from a distance,
and the view down the valley must have reminded the occupants that this was a land worth defending.
There are some barrows within the ramparts also, but I know nothing about them.

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!

Wolstonbury (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Just what the earthwork atop Wolstonbury Hill is remains a matter of intrigue.
Following some the links posted here will give further information on the various archaeological interpretations.
Since I moved to this area I have found the shape and presence of this hill more thought provoking than any of the other prominences on the South Downs.

What is up here for sure is a large oval earthwork covering some 2.2 hectares with an inner ditch. There is also a faint oval earthwork within the area of the main 'rampart', a 1994 survey revealed the presence of a third enclosure sandwiched between the two!

A cross ridge dyke and the remains of two round mounds lie just to the South East of the main enclosure.

The interior of the enclosure has been pock-marked by 18th - 19th century flint quarrying, with lots of pits evident. There is also a large quarry on the North East slope of the hill.

Views across the Weald to the North are panoramic, to the East are the Clayton Windmills and Ditchling Beacon beyond. Hollingbury is prominent to the South East.
Look West and you see Newtimber Hill, West Hill with Devils Dyke just beyond. Beyond that, Chanctonbury Ring is sticking it's tree lined head up.
The National Trust currently grazes a herd of some ancient breed of cow on the hill. Long spiky horns, but they are friendly and look more fitting than a bunch of modern aggro dairy cows!

This is surely one of the South Downs most enigmatic monuments and its remoteness means that solitude is easier to come by than at places like Devils Dyke and Ditchling Beacon. A splendid place for sunset contemplation.

Access: It is a good half hours walk from your car to the top of the hill.
Easiest approach is to park at The Plough pub in Pyecombe and approach from the South. This will take you past the two barrows and cross ridge dyke.
If approaching from the North you can park in the lanes at the foot of the hill (turning at Jack and Jill pub on A273) and there are several paths up. If you are feeling energetic, take what I call the 'pilgrims' steps up the North face. Steps have been cut into this path at some point, but it is still quite steep. Guaranteed to invoke an 'altered state of consciousness' by the time you reach the summit!! (ie: knackered!)

Hollingbury Hillfort

This roughly square hillfort encloses about 3.6 hectares and is defended by a single rampart and ditch with a counterscarp bank on its southern side.
This fort gave it's name to a particular type of construction, whereby the rampart was built of 2 rows of posts 2 metres apart,
tied together with cross beams to form a continuous box, and then filled with chalk rubble.
On my visit today a large section of the interior has been freshly strimmed (much is still covered in thick gorse) and so gives a chance to have a better look at the disk barrows near the center.
I have visited the larger one many times before, but two other smaller barrows are evident to the North of this one.
There is an even smaller barrow to the West, but I didn't spot it. These (bronze age) barrows predate this sites defensive use.
Someone had placed a small bunch of fresh flowers at the meeting of the paths that disect the interior of the fort.
Those seeking a glimpse of the eternal and an escape from the modern bustle of Brighton can do no better than to climb the Ditchling Road to the stunning viewpoint of Hollingbury.

Access: It's in the middle of a public golf course, several paths leading in from all directions. Bring your wits, or a cycling helmet!

Constantine Church stone (Christianised Site)

I visited this site on a weekend at Constantine Bay. It is very overgrown and one of the side walls has been propped up to stop it collapsing. It wasn't obvious where the reputed 'sacred stone' (see Misc section) was due to the foliage on the site. The biggest lump under the tower just looked like a large, flat step, but looking at the illustration this is where it would be. This stone is just visible in the first photo. It does seem a wierd place to go to the trouble of building a church, and one can imagine this secluded hollow in the sand could have been a sacred place for a long time beforehand. It was obviously a good place to gather and feast on shellfish, as the kitchen midden would suggest.

There is also a Well near the ruin, but I was too scared to venture out across the golf course!

Access: It is in the middle of Trevose golf course, and unless you like the feeling of being under fire then it is best to go to the Golf (and Country Club!!) Reception in Constantine Bay and ask a nice man to point the way through the flying golf balls.
Once at the church you are tucked in the middle of a mound and it is quite peaceful!

There are other sites of interest in the area which are worth a look; Cataclews Point with it's 3 burial cist barrows (see Ficklefingers post below), and, further around the coast path in Harlyn Bay, is a burial ground which has yielded many interesting finds and was thought to be in use from pre-history up until just before the Roman invasions. (See links section)

Offham Hill (Causewayed Enclosure)

One of the Sussex Neolithic Causewayed Enclosures, (others being The Trundle , Combe Hill and Whitehawk Camp)
Offham is much damaged by quarrying.

Ooops! Just updating these notes as last time I visited and posted I was looking at an 18th Century chalk pit, not a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure!

The remains of the enclosure are actually up on top of the hill, just to the North of 3 bowl barrows (and, more prominently, a covered reservoir). The chalkpit has completely eaten the whole side of the hill, and taken the eastern half of the enclosure with it. Only a visit can make you appreciate just how much damage was done to the hill by chalk quarrying. One side of the site is a sheer quarry cliff.
What is left is a large C shape of 'causewayed' banks and ditches, the top half of which disappears into the woods on the northern slope.
However, this is all barely perceptible now, especially as the site appears to be returning to woodland quite rapidly. I scurried around like an idiot looking for something bank or ditch - like to photograph, but to no avail! You can just perceive some of the earthworks in the scrub, but it is nigh on impossible to trace any distinct circular pattern. Maybe better in the winter. Times like these you wish you could fly and get a bird's eye view. (Although the multimap aerial photo doesn't reveal much either)

Frustrated at the lack of obvious monument, I turn my attention to the setting: this is such a beautiful spot, and it's location at the very edge of the Downs may have made it a special, boundary zone for early settlers. I know I will return again later in the season, and sit and feast on some of these wild strawberries that carpet much of this site.

Access: Park in Offham Village near the Church, cross the busy A275, over a stile and take the steep footpath up the side of the hill until you come out at the chalk pits. Look up to the escarpment on your right and you will appreciate how much of the hill has been taken out. Carry straight on into the woods on the other (south) side of the chalk pit and climb the path that curves round to the top of the hill. You pass another dizzyingly deep chalk pit on your left. Don't get too close to the edge! Bear round to the right and you will see the fenced in reservoir atop the hill. The 3 bronze age bowl barrows are at the NE corner of the reservoir, and the enclosure is just to the NE of the barrows.

Clava Cairns

5th March 05

What a beautifully preserved, peaceful and interesting site. A standing stone in a field on the right just before the car park welcomes you as you arrive. Two passage graves, a central ring cairn and a kerb cairn, with another dilapidated cairn and enigmatic ruined chapel (?) 10 mins walk to the west at Milton of Clava. My favourite stone has to be the split 'crocodile' stone in the circle around the SW cairn (see images). I had the place to myself for a while this morning and it was pretty special. Now a variety of folk have passed through, all obviously impressed with the power and artistry of this place. (See the
link to the leaflet below for practical info, then just get here and soak up the atmosphere of this perfect resting place).
Originally from Weymouth in Dorset, I now live in Hurst, West Sussex.

Would be pleased to meet up with folk in the area to visit and discuss local sites.

I have a particular interest in the mysterious collections of Sussex sarsens at various sites and the enigma of Wolstonbury Hill.

My TMA Content: