Regular aggregate field system on Amberley Mount, 340m north of Downs Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and 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 drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection.
Despite some levelling by agricultural activity and erosion, the regular aggregate field system on Amberley Mount, 340m north of Downs Farm, survives relatively well. It will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the field system and the landscape in which it was created. The location of the site of a Bronze Age settlement and other Prehistoric archaeological features nearby enhance its importance.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 31st October 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 regular aggregate field system surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on the north-west facing slope of Amberley Mount, a ridge of chalk downland on the South Downs.
The earthworks are denoted by a group of lynchets and field banks. The lynchets form terracing on the steep hillside, the result of past cultivation. The most prominent lynchet survives as a feature running north-east to south-west horizontally along the hillside and is crossed by the South Downs Way. A series of field banks, running parallel to the lynchet or vertically up the hillside, curve and enclose a number of irregular small fields. These banks are up to 2.4m high but have been reduced by agricultural activity or erosion in places. In 1956, field walking west of Amberley Mount, within the area of the regular aggregate field system, recorded a scatter of Roman pottery sherds across the slopes.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally assessed. A prehistoric or Roman trackway, denoted by a 2.4m ditch with a bank on its lower side, has been identified ascending the north escarpment of Amberley Mount. Between 1957 and 1958, a partial excavation near the summit of Amberley Mount identified a Bronze Age settlement, including hut sites, possibly associated with the field system.