Highdole Hill, Romano-British settlement


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 39800 04371


Romano-British aggregate village and two bowl barrows on Highdole Hill, 1.1km south-west of Breaky Bottom Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Romano-British aggregate villages are nucleated settlements formed by groups of five or more subsistence level farmsteads enclosed either individually or collectively, or with no formal boundary. In use throughout the Roman period (c.43-450 AD), they often occupied sites of earlier agricultural settlements. Most enclosures, where they occur, are formed by curvilinear walls or banks, sometimes surrounded by ditches, and the dwellings are usually associated with pits, stock enclosures, cultivation plots and field systems, indicating a mixed farming economy. The example on Highdole Hill is surrounded by, and closely associated with, a regular aggregate field system. These field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms, including lynchets, and follow straight or sinuous courses.

Despite disturbance and part-levelling by cultivation in the past, the Romano-British aggregate village and two bowl barrows on Highdole Hill survive well. They will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to their construction, use and the landscape in which they were built. The Romano-British aggregate village is a rare monument type and as such, of considerable significance. The location of two bowl barrows, within the bounds of the Romano-British village enhances its importance.

Bowl barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. The two barrows on Highdole Hill appear to have been respected and not merely incorporated into the banks of the enclosures or field system.


See details


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a Romano-British aggregate village and two bowl barrows surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on the summit of a hill on chalk downland overlooking Breaky Bottom in the South Downs.

The earthworks of the Romano-British village include hut sites denoted by a series of shallow circular depressions, boundary banks, enclosures and double-lynchet roads. The circular depressions marking the hut sites are between 6m and 15m in diameter and an average of 0.3m deep. A double-lynchet roadway runs into the village from the north-east and another skirts the south side of the settlement. Surrounding the village are lynchets forming the semi-rectangular enclosures of a regular aggregate field system.

The site was partially excavated between 1934 and 1935, which revealed two hut floors and other possible dwelling pits. The finds included Roman bronze, iron, tiles, querns, shells, animal bones, pottery, two bronze coins including one of Gallienus (AD 253-68). The pottery assemblage included La Tene III type, coarse Romano-British ware and Samian ware. These indicate that the village was occupied shortly before the Roman invasion and was abandoned in about AD 350.

Two bowl barrows are situated within the bounds of the settlement site; one to the north-east and another to the south-west. The north-east barrow survives as a broadly circular-shaped mound, about 8m in diameter and 0.25m high. A slight hollow at the top of the mound may be the result of an unrecorded excavation in the past. The south-west barrow survives as a broadly circular-shaped mound, about 7m in diameter and 0.25m high.

Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby bowl barrow are scheduled, but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ES 458
Legacy System:


East Sussex HER MES1939. NMR TQ30SE21, TQ30SE22, TQ30SE19. PastScape 402329, 402332, 402319.,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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