A multiple enclosure fort known as Goosehill Camp and a prehistoric linear boundary on Bow Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
West Dean
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SU 82972 12654

Reasons for Designation

Beneficial land use over the years has enabled Bow Hill and Kingley Vale to support one of the most diverse and well-preserved areas of chalk downland archaeological remains in south eastern England. These remains are considered to be of particular significance because they include types of monument, dating from the prehistoric and Roman periods, more often found in Wessex and south western Britain. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between trackways, settlement sites, land boundaries, stock enclosures, flint mines and funerary monuments in the area gives significant insight into successive changes in the pattern of land use over time. Multiple enclosure forts comprise two or more enclosed areas measuring up to 9.6ha, generally defined by sub-circular or sub-rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m. The inner enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. They date mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50), and usually occur in south western England on sloping ground. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near a water supply, and many were used for periods of up to 250 years. The outer enclosures of multiple enclosure forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosure is generally thought to have been the focus of occupation. The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer, V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep. Entrances are generally a single gap through each line of defence, often aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosure have revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures, hearths, ovens, cobbled surfaces, as well as occasional small pits and large depressions which may have functioned as watering holes. Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties their distribution becomes increasingly scattered, and the form and construction methods more varied. They are important for any study of the relationship between stock management and settlement in the later prehistoric period, and most well-preserved examples are of national importance. Linear boundaries are earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks extending over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. Their construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, and they were generally used to mark important boundaries in the landscape, defining and ordering the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Despite some limited modern disturbance, partial excavation and tree-root damage caused by scattered woodland cover, the multiple enclosure fort and earlier linear boundary on Bow Hill survive well and contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The clear superimposition of the fort on the earlier linear earthwork will provide evidence for the development of land use on the hill over the prehistoric period.


The monument includes the ramparts, ditches, entrances, ancillary banks and internal areas of a multiple enclosure fort, situated on sloping ground just below the summit of a ridge of the Sussex Downs. An earlier, prehistoric linear ditch and bank which runs beneath and either side of the south western portion of the outer ramparts of the fort is also included in the scheduling. The fort has two concentric rings of oval-shaped ramparts 29m apart, each surrounded by a substantial outer ditch. The ditch of the outer ring is 6.8m wide and 1m deep, surrounding a bank 2.4m wide and 0.5m high. The ramparts have an entrance on the western side, formed by a 6m gap in the defences. The ditch on either side of the gap ends in a well-defined rounded terminal, whilst the bank on the southern side curves into the fort to form a short entrance passage. The ditch is briefly interrupted by modern chalk-digging on its northern side, and to the north east, the bank curves outwards at the point where a later, 19th century, SSW-NNE orientated low boundary bank crosses the fort. To the south east, where the ground falls away steeply, the ramparts become less distinct and gradually fade into the hillside. The inner ring is more substantial, with a bank 8.7m wide and 2m high, surrounded by a ditch 9.3m wide and 1.7m deep. The entrance to the inner enclosure is on the south eastern, downslope side of the ring formed by a 7.5m break in the ramparts. Just to the south, a slight outer bank, which follows the alignment of the eastern side of the inner ring, further defines the entrance. The ditches of both rings have become partially infilled over the years, and have slight counterscarp banks. On the south western side of the inner enclosure, just inside the ramparts and sheltered by them, are two roughly circular depressions up to 1m deep. The northernmost is 9m in diameter and has a 1m high, encircling bank on its north eastern side. The second depression is shallower and larger, with a diameter of 12m. The earlier linear boundary is a roughly north-south orientated, curving ditch c.60m long, 3.5m wide and 0.3m deep flanked on the eastern side by a bank 2.5m wide, surviving to a height of 0.25m above the surrounding ground. The monument was partially excavated between 1953 and 1955, when the rampart ditches were discovered to be V-shaped and originally 1.4m deeper than their present level. Finds from the ramparts included Iron Age and Roman pottery sherds and a bronze brooch dating to the first century AD. Partial excavation of the circular depressions in the inner enclosure showed them to be the sites of at least three small Iron Age buildings. Postholes, fragments of daub and charcoal were among the items found.

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
Boyden, J R, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Goosehill Camp, (1956), 70-99
Boyden, J R, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Goosehill Camp, (1956), 70-99
Fox, A, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 109, (1952), 22


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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