Hillfort, the possible remains of a Romano-Celtic temple and a group of three bowl barrows at Hollingbury


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Hillfort, the possible remains of a Romano-Celtic temple and a group of three bowl barrows at Hollingbury
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 32201 07878

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provides important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Although it shows some signs of modern disturbance by army trenching and scrub encroachment, the monument at Hollingbury survives well in the form of earthworks, and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its development over the years and the landscape in which its component features were constructed. The Iron Age hillfort is relatively unusual in being associated with earlier and later phases in the utilisation of the hilltop, and the close stratigraphic relationship between the earlier compound and later hillfort illustrates the development of larger and ever more defensive forms of enclosure during the later prehistoric period. The survival of the earlier bowl barrows as earthworks throughout and beyond the period in which the later hillfort was occupied reflects a continued recognition and respect for Bronze Age burial practices. The later reuse of the hillfort as a temple site illustrates the consecration, during the Romano-British period, of a previously secular habitation site.


The monument includes the earthworks and interior of a slight univallate hillfort dating to the Early Iron Age and three earlier bowl barrows situated on a clay-capped, chalk hill on the north eastern edge of the modern town of Brighton. The monument enjoys excellent views of the Channel coast to the south. Part excavation in 1931 and 1967-1969 dated the hillfort to the early sixth century BC, and revealed that it had been preceded by a slightly earlier Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age enclosure, traces of which survive as a low, north-south aligned, slightly curving bank running c.25m within and parallel to the eastern rampart of the later hillfort. The bank is flanked to the east by a now infilled ditch c.3m wide. This earlier enclosure has been interpreted as a hedged animal pound. The main hillfort defences survive as a bank c.10m wide and up to c.1.5m high, separated by a berm of around 3m from a partly infilled, outer ditch c.4m wide and up to c.1m deep. The profile of the ditch has been partially disturbed by later landscaping associated with a modern golf course. The excavations revealed that the bank was originally constructed as a box rampart, or earth and chalk rubble wall reinforced with timbers and revetted with turves, up to 2m high. The defences enclose a sub-square area of around 4.5ha. The original access to the interior is provided by an inturned entrance situated on the western side of the hillfort near its south western corner. A further gap in the western rampart near the north western corner of the monument is the result of disturbance by army training activities during World War I and World War II. The excavation of 1967-69 also revealed the buried remains of five round houses dating to the early sixth century BC in the south western corner of the monument. These have diameters ranging between c.4.25m and c.12.25m, and represent a small village or farmstead which is estimated to have been occupied for a period of around 100 years. Fragments of a triangular loomweight found near the doorway of one of the smaller houses suggest that weaving was carried out here and a piece of quern stone found in the outer ditch indicates that the cultivation and processing of corn formed part of the village economy. Also associated with the village buildings is a group of circular pits, one of which was used to store water by way of a channel leading from a gully dug around the largest round house, itself designed to collect rainwater running off the roof. The excavations also revealed traces of the reuse of the hillfort during the later, Roman period (AD 43-AD 450). These included sherds of Roman pottery and the remains of the eastern side of a palisaded enclosure with a wooden gateway situated c.50m within the earlier, eastern hillfort rampart. At this time a second entrance was constructed through the hillfort defences on the eastern side of the monument, immediately opposite the gateway of the smaller, palisaded enclosure, and the two were linked by a metalled track. This later enclosure has been interpreted as the temenos, or sacred outer precinct, of a Romano-Celtic temple. Concrete posts were inserted into the postholes of the eastern hillfort gateway at the end of the 1967-1969 excavation in order to indicate the exact form of the structure. The three Bronze Age bowl barrows form a roughly north-south aligned, linear group situated near the centre of the later hillfort. The northernmost and central barrows have mounds c.13m in diameter and c.0.4m high, whilst the southernmost barrow is c.14m in diameter and survives to a height of c.1m. Each has a central hollow indicating antiquarian excavation. Documentary evidence suggests that the southernmost barrow may have been reused as the site of a beacon during the medieval and post-medieval periods. Excluded from the scheduling are the modern concrete steps which lead up the rampart into the hillfort near its north eastern corner, the concrete bases of all modern wooden seats and the OS trig pillar, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

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Books and journals
Holmes, J, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Hollingbury Camp, Sussex, 1967-9, , Vol. 122, (1984), 29-53
Source 2, RCHME, TQ 30 NW 18,
Sources 3 & 4, RCHME, TQ 30 NW 18,


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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