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.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.