Regular aggregate field system with prehistoric and Romano-British farmsteads and a Bronze Age bowl barrow on Park Brow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014946

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Oct-1996


Ordnance survey map of Regular aggregate field system with prehistoric and Romano-British farmsteads and a Bronze Age bowl barrow on Park Brow
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Adur (District Authority)

Parish: Sompting

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 15386 08827


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

Reasons for Designation

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

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, and occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries. There are over 10,000 surviving examples recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), and they occur across most of lowland Britain, often occupying prominent locations. Their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information about early prehistoric communities. Bowl barrrows are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Although partly levelled by modern ploughing, the regular aggregate field system incorporating prehistoric and Romano-British farmsteads on Park Brow survives comparatively well in the form of earthworks and buried remains. Part excavation has shown the monument to contain important information about over one thousand years of life in an area of chalk downland which has been intensively farmed for at least two millennia. The bowl barrow on Park Brow survives in buried form after levelling by modern ploughing. Its close association with the broadly contemporary Bronze Age farmstead and the field system within which it lies will provide evidence for the relationship between burial practices, agriculture and settlement during the period of its construction and use.


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


The monument includes a regular aggregate field system which encompasses at least three associated farmsteads dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Romano-British period, and a Bronze Age bowl barrow, situated on a southward- sloping spur of the Sussex Downs, c.1.6km to the north east of Cissbury Ring hillfort. The monument survives in the form of earthworks, crop and soil marks visible on aerial photographs and from the surrounding downland, and buried remains over an area of c.32ha. Part excavation of the three farmsteads during the 1920s showed the field system to have been in use for many centuries, from a least c.1400 BC-AD 300, and the form and extent of the monument will reflect the patterns of reuse and modification adopted by successive generations of farmers. The roughly rectangular field system lies on either side of a contemporary north-south aligned trackway which transects the spur. Originally providing access to the field system and settlements from the surrounding downland, the trackway has been mostly levelled by modern ploughing, but survives for a c.70m stretch towards the top of the spur as a slight hollow way c.3m wide, bounded on each side by a bank up to 0.5m high and c.5m wide. Individual field boundaries are visible within the southern part of the monument in the form of positive lynchets up to 0.3m high, and elsewhere as cropmarks. These show that each field was a small, square or rectangular unit measuring from c.2ha to c.6ha. The farmsteads have been levelled by modern ploughing and survive in buried form. Although traces of even earlier human use of the spur have been found in the form of Neolithic worked flints and Beaker pottery sherds, the earliest known habitation site dates to the Middle Bronze Age and is situated to the west of the track on the relatively sheltered southern slope of the spur. Part excavation revealed traces of a south west-north east aligned linear group of eight circular wooden buildings up to 6.7m in diameter, each surrounded by a small banked enclosure. These have been dated, by analysis of the sherds of pottery found during the excavation, to the years between c.1400-1000 BC. Other finds included traces of wattle and daub, fragments of saddle querns used for grinding grain, spindle whorls and loom weights, indicating a mixed farming regime. On the summit of the spur just to the east of the trackway is a broadly contemporary bowl barrow. This has been levelled by modern ploughing but earthwork surveys carried out in the 1920s indicate that it had a circular mound c.12m in diameter, surrounded by a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. The ditch will survive as a buried feature c.2m wide. The later Early Iron Age (c.700-300BC) farmstead lies around 90m to the north east at the top of the southern slope of the spur to the east of the track. A roughly rectangular palisade was found to enclose an area of c.2ha, containing a group of at least five buildings represented by rectangular rammed chalk floors and associated post holes. Alongside these was a rectangular structure measuring 10m by 3m indicated by two parallel rows of post holes and interpreted as a granary. A human cremation burial in a pottery urn was also discovered. Beyond the palisade to the north west were found a group of large, bell-shaped storage pits. Also associated with this period is a roughly circular pit c.8m in diameter surrounded by a bank up to 3m wide and c.2m high, which adjoins the eastern side of the track to the north west of the farmstead. Known as The Circus, this feature was partly excavated in 1922, when it was established that it had been remodelled during the Iron Age and used as a pond or stock-watering hole. The latest farmstead indentified by the excavations lies in the south western corner of the monument and dates from the Late Iron Age to the Roman period (c.300 BC-AD 300). A group of five rectangular house sites were discovered, representing several successive phases of habitation. These were roughly north-south or west-east aligned, and the largest measured 9.8m by 7.9m. The buildings were associated with traces of three roughly north-south aligned, flat bottomed linear boundary ditches c.1m deep and c.1m wide. Finds associated with the Roman period included wall plaster, window glass, clay roof tiles and a door lock. Extensive charring of the remains indicated that the farmstead had been burnt to the ground some time after AD 270. All 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.


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

Legacy System number: 27068

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Black, E W, 'British Archaeological Reports' in The Roman Villas of South East England, , Vol. 171, (1987), 96-97
Pullen-Burry, H T, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The Circus on Park Brow, Sompting, , Vol. 65, (1924), 242-250
Wolseley, G R et al, 'Archaeologia' in Prehistoric and Roman Settlements on Park Brow, , Vol. 7, (1926), 1-40
Wolseley, G R et al, 'Archaeologia' in Prehistoric and Roman Settlements on Park Brow, , Vol. 7, (1926), 1-40
Wolseley, G R et al, 'Archaeologia' in Prehistoric and Roman Settlements on Park Brow, , Vol. 7, (1926), 1-40
Wolseley, G R, Smith, R A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Discoveries near Cissbury, , Vol. 4, (1924), 347-359

End of official listing