Hillfort, the possible remains of a Romano-Celtic temple and a group of three bowl barrows at Hollingbury
- 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.
- The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)
- National Park:
- SOUTH DOWNS
- 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.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
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