Cross dyke and adjacent saucer barrow 850m south east of Ditchling Cross: part of Plumpton Plain round barrow cemetery
- 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)
- East Chiltington
- National Park:
- SOUTH DOWNS
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 36847 12590
Reasons for Designation
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. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.
Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds - covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later 'flat' burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Saucer barrows are one of the rarest recognised forms of round barrow, with about 60 known examples nationally. They take the form of a circular area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and largely occupied by a single low, squat mound. Of Early Bronze Age date, most examples were constructed between 1800 and 1200 BC. The cross dyke 850m south east of Ditchling Cross and the associated saucer barrow survive well and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The cross dyke lies to the east of a further cross dyke and is situated within the linear round barrow cemetery of which the saucer barrow is a part. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association will therefore provide evidence for the relationship between land division and burial practice during the period of their construction and use.
The monument includes a cross dyke running across the crest of a ridge of the
Sussex Downs, and a saucer barrow situated at the north western end of the
cross dyke, one of a group of barrows forming a linear round barrow cemetery.
The cross dyke is a north west-south east orientated ditch 50m long, 4.3m wide
and 0.55m deep, flanked on the east side by a bank 5.8m wide and surviving to
a height of 0.2m above the surface of the surrounding ground. At its northern
end, the ditch ends in a well-defined, rounded terminal, whilst to the south,
aerial photographs show that it continues beyond the surviving earthworks as a
Situated 4m to the north west, the saucer barrow has a circular mound
6.6m in diameter and 0.2m high. Surrounding the mound is a shallow ditch 2m
wide encircled by a low bank 2.7m wide and surviving to a maximum height of
0.15m. The form of the barrow resembles an upturned saucer.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows, , Vol. 75, (1934), 258
colour county coverage 1:10,000, East Sussex County Council, (1987)
Title: TQ 3611 Source Date: 1978 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500
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