Cross dyke 420m west of Chanctonbury Ring hillfort


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.

West Sussex
Horsham (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 13514 12040

Reasons for Designation

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dyke 420m west of Chanctonbury Ring hillfort survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance by downland tracks, and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the ways in which it was constructed and used. The cross dyke is unusual in that it has been dated to the Roman period, providing important evidence for the continuing use of this form of land boundary beyond the prehistoric period. The monument forms part of a group of prehistoric, Roman and early medieval earthworks situated on Chanctonbury Hill, including a hillfort, Romano-Celtic temple, a further cross dyke and a number of round barrows and hlaews or Saxon barrows, which are the subjects of separate schedulings. The close association of these monuments illustrates the changing relationship between ceremonial and burial practices and land division in this area of downland over a period of c.1,500 years.


The monument includes a north-south aligned cross dyke which runs for c.106m across a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The cross dyke has a ditch c.5m wide and c.0.7m deep, flanked on its eastern side by a bank c.7m wide. This survives to a height of c.0.5m. To the north, the earthworks fade out gradually as the ground slopes away, whilst the southern end is formed by a well-defined, rounded terminal. The cross dyke has been levelled near its centre and towards its southern end by two downland tracks which cross the monument, although the ditch will survive here in buried form. The bank also shows signs of part disturbance by World War II training activities. The monument was partly excavated in 1977, when the ditch was shown to have been originally flat bottomed, with an asymmetrical profile, and the bank constructed of simply-dumped chalk rubble and flinty-clay. A sherd of pottery found at the base of the bank indicated that the cross dyke may date to the Roman period (c.AD 43-450).

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
Bedwin, O, 'Britannia' in Excavations a Chanctonbury Ring, Wiston, West Sussex, 1977, , Vol. 11, (1980), 173-231


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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