Whitehawk Camp causewayed enclosure


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010929

Date first listed: 28-Nov-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of Whitehawk Camp causewayed enclosure
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)

National Grid Reference: TQ 33000 04717, TQ 33036 04869


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500 years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to 70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered to be nationally important.

Despite some damage caused by road construction, Whitehawk Camp causewayed enclosure survives well, the presence of at least four rings of defences making it an extremely rare form of this type of monument. Partial excavation of the site on at least two separate occasions has demonstrated the extent to which both archaeological and environmental evidence will survive relating to the construction and use of the monument as well as the contemporary landscape. Such information allows a better understanding of the extent and nature of occupation in the area during the Neolithic period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which falls into two separate areas, includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure situated in a saddle between two low hilltops on the chalk of the South Downs. To the east and west are steep slopes which provide extensive views from the site in each direction. The oval enclosure survives as an enclosed area c.100m across surrounded by a series of four concentric banks with associated interrupted ditches and evidence for further ditches. Two sections of the innermost bank survive as visible earthwork features up to 9m wide and 0.5m high. The ditch which runs along the outside of this bank can still be seen in places as a slight depression, having become largely infilled over the years. There are no traces of a bank between the inner and second ditches which are between 6m and 10m apart. A short length of upstanding bank, 9m wide and 0.5m high, survives on the northern edge of the second ditch, suggesting that on the second circuit the bank was external to the ditch. The third bank is the most complete and survives up to 11m wide and 0.7m high to the east and 1.5m high to the west. An interrupted ditch, of which there are slight visible traces up to 5m wide, runs around the outside of this bank except to the north-east, where the area has been levelled during the construction of the Brighton race-course. The distance between the second and third ditches is c.30m. The fourth bank appears to have only been constructed in the north, west and south, with the scarp slope to the east providing natural demarcation in that area. The outer ditch is visible in places as a slight depression up to 10 wide. Fragments of a fifth ditch to the north, and a fifth and sixth ditch to the south-east, were located during road construction in 1935, although it is not thought that these were ever complete circuits. In addition, extensions to the fourth ditch have been discovered to the north-east, south-east and south-west, cutting off the higher land to the north and south. The extent of the monument was first identified in 1928 and it was excavated in 1929 and 1932-3 by E C Curwen when small sections of the banks and ditches were investigated. In 1935, in advance of the construction of a road, Curwen excavated a trench across the site from north-west to south-east. The inner ditch contained the greatest number of finds, the excavator recording it as half-filled with broken pottery, bones and general domestic refuse. The second ditch was similar in nature. In the third ditch two complete female skeletons were found and fragments of at least six other individuals, while in the outer ditch there were virtually no finds. Where surviving banks were excavated evidence of a line of posts constructed along the top of the bank, forming a palisade, was found. The ditches appeared to be primarily dug as quarry ditches for the construction of the rampart and were not intended to be defensive in their own right. In August 1991 evaluation of six trenches was undertaken on the west and south-west of the monument in advance of a housing development. The south-west extension of the fourth ditch was investigated and remains of the fourth bank located further to the north. Excluded from the scheduling are all posts, fence posts, fences and gates, the stables and buildings of the race course, the pavement and street lamps along Manor Hill Road and the concrete steps running down to the recreation ground on the east. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included in the scheduling.

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: 20176

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, EC, Archaeology of Sussex, (1954)
Russel, M, An Archaeological Assessment Conducted at Whitehawk, (1991)
Ministry of Works, Whitehawk Camp ES9 File AA 50859/1,

End of official listing