Hilltop enclosure and linear boundary on Bow Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012319

Date first listed: 04-Aug-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Hilltop enclosure and linear boundary on Bow Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Stoughton

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 82492 11580


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

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, ceremonial and funerary monuments in the area gives significant insight into successive changes in the pattern of land use over time. Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits. Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds. More scattered examples are found in north east Oxfordshire and north Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside England. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance. Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Despite some tree-root damage caused by current woodland cover, occasional trees and scrub, the hilltop enclosure and 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 hilltop enclosure is a small and particlarly well-preserved example likely to have been associated with the management and movement of stock in this part of the hinterland of Chichester Harbour, an area of growing settlement concentration from the Late Bronze Age onwards. The linear boundary is one of a series of linear earthworks partly enclosing the three limbs of the Y-shaped hill and The Devil's Humps round barrow cemetery. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association will therefore provide evidence for the relationship between stock management, land division and funerary practice during the period of their construction and use.


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


The monument includes the hilltop enclosure known as Bow Hill Camp and an associated linear boundary situated on the summit of a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The hilltop enclosure is a raised, level, sub-rectangular platform of c.0.5ha surrounded by a rampart up to 2m high and 2.5m wide. The rampart is in turn enclosed by a ditch which has become partially infilled over the years, surviving as a depression up to 1m deep and c7.5m wide. The ditch is particularly well-preserved on the northern side. The entrance to the interior is formed by a simple gap in the ramparts 13m wide on the eastern side of the enclosure. Beyond the western and northern sides of the ditch, and running parallel to it, is a slight counterscarp bank 2.5m wide and up to 0.5m high. The south western corner is formed by a complex arrangement of parallel banks and ditches, and the linear boundary is a continuation of the southern ditch of the enclosure, running downhill across the direction of the slope in a south westerly direction for c.170m. The linear ditch is 7m wide and 0.5m deep and is flanked to the north west by a bank 3m wide, surviving to a height of 0.25m above the surrounding ground.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24393

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, EC, Prehistoric Sussex, (1929), 141
Coffin, S, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950), 135-137
Coffin, S, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950), 135

End of official listing