Three round barrows and a cross dyke on Steyning Round Hill, 530m WNW of Highfield Barn.
Reasons for Designation
The three round barrows and cross dyke are significant remnants of the prehistoric landscape of Steyning Round Hill. Round 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 mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus of burials in later periods. They occur across most of Britain, including the Wessex area where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities.
Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks.
Although levelled by ploughing, the three round barrows and the cross dyke on Steyning Round Hill will contain below ground archaeological and environmental information relating to the mounds, ditches and banks, and their surrounding landscape.
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 linear group of three round barrows and a cross dyke situated on a chalk spur, which projects to the north-east from a ridge of the South Downs. They have been levelled by ploughing but survive as below-ground archaeological remains.
The three barrows are orientated north east - south west along the spur. The central barrow consists of a levelled mound, 14.5m in diameter surrounded by a quarry ditch, now in-filled, from which material to construct the mound was derived. The barrow was partially excavated between 1950 and 1951 which revealed six Anglo-Saxon secondary interments within the ditch as well as Bronze Age pottery, Romano-British pottery and 4th century AD Roman coins. The Anglo-Saxon inhumations were heavily mutilated and it has been suggested the site may represent a ‘war grave’. The barrow is situated midway along a cross dyke, the banks of which were originally constructed up against the barrow. The cross dyke is orientated NNW-SSE. It was originally formed of a ditch, about 200m long, flanked to the east by a low bank but has been levelled by ploughing. About 120m south west of the central barrow is a bowl barrow with a levelled mound 13m in diameter and a surrounding in-filled quarry ditch. About 76m north east of the central barrow is the third round barrow. It is also a levelled mound about 13m in diameter with a surrounding in-filled quarry ditch. A partial excavation in 1951 recovered Bronze Age pottery from both these barrows.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby cross dyke are scheduled but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.