Causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 39882 11810

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.

Although it has been partly damaged by chalk quarrying, this portion of the causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill survives comparatively well, and the comprehensive excavation of its southern part has demonstrated that it will retain archaeological and environmental remains containing information about the form and function of the monument, and its contemporary landscape setting. The enclosure lies c.150m to the north of a pair of bowl barrows dating to the Neolithic/Bronze Age period. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association will provide evidence for the relationship between burial practices, ceremonial and social customs during the period in which they were constructed and used.


The monument includes the surviving, north western part of a causewayed enclosure situated near the top of the northern slope of a spur of the Sussex Downs. The southern part of the enclosure was comprehensively excavated down to the underlying chalk bedrock during 1976 and is therefore not included in the scheduling, and 18th/19th century chalk quarrying has destroyed the eastern side of the enclosure. The excavation of the southern part of the enclosure demonstrated that the monument, which survives mainly as a buried feature just visible as a slight break in slope, will take the form of a double circuit of U-shaped elongated pits of varying lengths, each up to 3m wide and originally up to 1.5m deep. Each pit is separated from its neighbour by a causeway of undisturbed chalk and is flanked on its inner edge by a c.5m wide bank of dumped chalk rubble. The analysis of environmental evidence recovered during the excavation revealed that the enclosure was originally constructed within a woodland clearing, and that the inner pit circuit may have been constructed at a slightly earlier date than the outer. It has been suggested that the circuits were not complete because the eastern side of the enclosure was originally defined by the steep, natural eastern slope of the spur; this evidence has been obscured by the 18th/19th century chalk quarry. Finds dating to the Neolithic period retrieved during the excavation included a polished flint axe and 171 sherds of pottery. The deliberately buried, crouched, articulated skeleton of a man who died in his early twenties was discovered in a small grave dug into a segment of the outer pit circuit, and other, disarticulated human bones were found within the pits. Faunal remains included the bones of red and roe deer, cattle, beaver and pig. The modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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
Drewett, P, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in The excavation of a Neolithic Causewayed Enc. on Offham Hill etc, , Vol. 43, (1977), 201-241


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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