Plumpton Plain earthworks
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002311
Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: East Sussex
District: Lewes (District Authority)
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: TQ 35675 12242, TQ 35793 12242
Bronze Age settlement and associated remains on Plumpton Plain, 710m ESE of Streathill Farm Cottage.
Reasons for Designation
The Bronze Age Settlement on Plumpton Plain includes enclosed settlement remains dating to about 1000 BC, which are commonly described as ‘Itford Hill style settlements’ after the site type found at Itford Hill on the South Downs. Associated with the enclosed settlement remains are also lynchets, clearance cairns, trackways and house-platforms representing unenclosed settlement, which date more broadly to between 1600 BC and 900 BC.
Itford Hill style settlements are small domestic settlements of one to three households, usually covering an area of between 1ha and 3ha, comprising a series of small banked compounds set back to back. The compounds are frequently associated with tracks and hollow ways which link the settlements to field systems, and round barrow cemeteries are often nearby. The settlements date to the Late Bronze Age (tenth to eighth centuries BC). Excavated examples have shown that the compounds usually contain circular wooden buildings varying in diameter from 3m to 8m, with entrance porches. Associated with these structures would have been a series of working areas and fenced compounds; small ponds have also been found. Finds, including loomweights and carbonised grain, provide evidence for the practice of a mixed farming economy.
Itford Hill style settlements are found in southern England, principally in the chalk downland of Sussex where Itford Hill itself is located. They are a rare monument type, with less than 20 examples known nationally.
Despite some disturbance in the past, the Bronze Age settlement and associated remains on Plumpton Plain survive remarkably well. The site will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Its significance is enhanced through its association with the nearby Bronze Age enclosed settlement near Horseshoe Plantation and round barrows on the northern edge of the South Downs, which form separate Scheduled Monuments. Together these monuments provide a valuable source of information concerning the nature of Bronze Age occupation and land use as well as the relationship between secular and ceremonial activity on this part of the South Downs.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 27 November 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 Bronze Age settlement, situated near the crest of a ridge of chalk downland at Plumpton Plain on the northern edge of the South Downs. The settlement includes at least four enclosures denoted by banks, which are partly linked by contemporary sunken and embanked trackways. A possible fifth enclosure lies on the eastern side of the site. Four of the embanked enclosures are broadly curvilinear in form and another is rectilinear. All of these enclosures have a discernable entrance and several include internal features identified as wells or ponds. Several of the enclosures were partially excavated in the early 1930s, which identified three post-built round houses and at least two other circular post-built structures. Two enclosures yielded Bronze Age pottery and features identified as ‘cooking holes’ outside the huts also produced pot-boilers and broken pots. The enclosed settlement remains were dated to about 1000 BC. These are contemporary with and of the same type as those found at Itford Hill on the South Downs. However many of the associated remains have a broader date range of between about 1600 BC and 900 BC. The excavations also revealed a later settlement site, commonly termed ‘Plumpton Plain Site B’, with huts and store-holes, located about 400m to the south-east but this has since been destroyed by ploughing. In 2003, an English Heritage survey was carried out on Plumpton Plain, which identified many of the features associated with the settlement.
Nearby, and closely associated with the enclosures, are the remnants of lynchets of Bronze-Age fields, clearance cairns, trackways, a cross-ridge boundary and house-platforms representing unenclosed settlement. An earlier co-axial field system that is thought to have extended over an area of at least 100 acres has been shown to underlie the settlement.
The further archaeological remains which survive in the vicinity of this monument are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ES 52
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
McOmish, D. 2004. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Survey Report: Plumpton Plain, East Sussex. Swindon: National Monuments Record
NMR TQ31SE20. PastScape 402737
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