Hillfort, bowl barrow and associated remains on The Caburn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014527

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Apr-1996


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort, bowl barrow and associated remains on The Caburn
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014527 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2019 at 03:28:54.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Glynde

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 44438 08936


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

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving 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 2400-500 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 and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. 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 provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The small multivallate hillfort on The Caburn survives well and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its complex history and development. The hillfort is unusual in that it has been shown to have undergone a late phase of redevelopment and reuse during the medieval period. Around 500m to the north west is an unfinished large univallate hillfort known as Ranscombe Camp. These hillforts are broadly contemporary and their close association will provide evidence for the sequence of settlement in this area during the Iron Age. The adjacent, earlier bowl barrow survives comparatively well and will also contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the changing pattern of landuse on the spur during the prehistoric period. The World War II slit trench illustrates the use of the Sussex Downs for army training during the 20th century.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and interior of a small multivallate hillfort, and an adjacent, earlier, Bronze Age bowl barrow, situated on a prominent spur of the Sussex Downs. The spur slopes down steeply to the south, west and east and overlooks the Ouse valley to the south west. A 20th century army slit trench is also included in the scheduling. The hillfort defences, which survive as earthworks varying in date, complication and width, enclose a subcircular area of c.3ha. Part excavation in 1937-1938 revealed the hilltop to have undergone a complex history of development involving several phases of settlement and reconstruction from the Iron Age to the medieval period. The first phase preceded the construction of the hillfort and is represented by the buried traces of two circular wooden buildings discovered within the interior of the later hillfort. These have been interpreted as forming part of an unenclosed Iron Age village dating from at least c.300 BC. Associated finds of iron slag indicate that iron products were produced by the inhabitants, while spindle whorls, loom weights and fragments of quernstone suggest that the village enjoyed a largely self- sufficient, mixed farming economy. At least 139 associated pits were discovered within the interior of the hillfort, mostly used for grain storage and rubbish dumping. An urned cremation burial found under the southern counterscarp bank of the later hillfort also dates to this period. The second phase involved the building of a single line of defence around the settlement in c.100 BC. Constructed of dumped earth and chalk rubble, this inner rampart survives as a low bank c.6m wide and up to 0.3m high surrounded by a partly infilled ditch now measuring c.6m wide and up to 1.3m deep. Access to the interior was provided by a slightly inturned, causewayed entrance lying towards the north east. The ditch is encircled by a slight counterscarp bank c.2m wide on its southern side. At around the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43 the defences were reinforced by the addition of a second rampart and ditch on the northern side of the hillfort, which was vulnerable to attack from across the level ground to the north. This was an earth wall reinforced by wooden framing and retained on its inner side by a continuous line of upright timbers. The rampart survives as an earthwork feature c.10m wide and up to 2m high, flanked by a partly infilled, outer ditch now measuring c.4m wide and 0.5m deep. At this time, the north eastern entrance was elaborated with an extended entrance passage and a new, more simply designed entrance was formed by the levelling of a c.5m stretch of the defences on the north western side of the monument. Soon after this, the hillfort was abandoned, and traces of burning found at the north eastern gateway suggest that this may have occurred because of a successful enemy attack. Evidence from the excavation suggests that the hillfort was repaired and reused for a time during the late Roman or early medieval period. During the mid 12th century, the site was refortified as a defensive outpost, probably during the civil wars of King Stephen's reign. This involved the construction of a third rampart around the northern side of the monument, which survives as a slight bank c.0.5m high flanked by an outer ditch c.6m wide and c.2m deep. This is in turn flanked by a slight bank up to c.0.5m high. A low bank which runs for c.100m parallel to the northern ramparts of the hillfort c.20m from their north western edge is interpreted as an associated outwork. The ramparts and interior have been partly disturbed in places by 19th century flint digging. The earlier, Bronze Age bowl barrow lies adjacent to the north eastern entrance of the later hillfort. It has a mound c.9.5m in diameter and c.0.4m high, with a slight central hollow, indicating part excavation. The mound is surrounded by a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years, but survives as a buried feature c.2m wide. Around 30m to the north west of the bowl barrow is a modern army slit trench, dug as part of army training activities carried out here during and after World War II. This has a roughly square outer bank with sides measuring c.9m enclosing a deeply excavated ditch.

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: 27029

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Holmes, J, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Hollingbury Camp, Sussex, 1967-9, , Vol. 122, (1984), 51
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at The Caburn 1938, (1939), 193-216
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at The Caburn 1938, (1939), 193-216
source 3, RCHME, TQ 40 NW 30,

End of official listing