Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015228

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Mid Sussex (District Authority)

Parish: Pyecombe

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 28652 13945


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

Reasons for Designation

Romano-British farmsteads are small agricultural units comprising groups of up to four circular or rectangular houses along with associated structures which may include wells, storage pits, corn-drying ovens and granary stores. These were sometimes constructed within a yard surrounded by a rectangular or curvilinear enclosure, and associated field systems, trackways and cemeteries may be located nearby. Most Romano-British farmsteads in south east England have been discovered by the analysis of aerial photographs. They usually survive in the form of buried features visible as crop and soil marks and occasionally as low earthworks. Often situated on marginal agricultural land and found throughout the British Isles, they date to the period of Roman occupation (c.AD 43-450). Romano-British farmsteads are generally regarded as low status settlements, with the members of one family or small kinship group pursuing a mixed farming economy. Excavation at these sites has shown a marked continuity with later prehistoric settlements. There is little evidence of personal wealth and a limited uptake of the Romanised way of life. Romano- British farmsteads occur throughout southern England, but cluster on the chalk downland of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. As the most representative form of rural settlement in the region during the Roman period, all Romano-British farmsteads which have been positively identified and which have significant surviving remains will merit protection.

The Romano-British farmstead, field system and trackway on Wolstonbury Hill survive well and have been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument. The farmstead forms part of a group of monuments situated on this part of the Sussex Downs and its close association with earlier prehistoric sites illustrates the changes in the way the hill has been used over the centuries.


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


The monument includes a farmstead dating to the late Romano-British period and its associated field system and trackway situated on the north eastern slope of Wolstonbury Hill, a clay-with-flints capped, chalk spur which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The farmstead survives as a group of at least four north west-south east aligned, parallel rectangular terraces measuring up to c.90m by c.15m cut into the hillslope. Part excavation in 1934 and 1950 revealed traces of two circular houses constructed on two of the terraces, the largest with a diameter of c.12m. Fragments of clay roof tiles, a door key, iron nails, and part of a Greensand rotary quern were also discovered, along with sherds of pottery dating to the late fourth century AD. The investigations also identified further building platforms representing the sites of at least six associated structures. The contemporary field system surrounds the farmstead, sharing its alignment and orientation. It is represented by a number of faint parallel lynchets with an average height of c.0.25m, covering an area of c.1.7ha. Approaching the farmstead from the spur to the south west, the trackway survives as a level terrace c.200m long cut into the hillslope and measures an average of c.8m wide. The trackway continues to the south west of the monument in the form of a narrow modern sheep track, although this area is not included in the scheduling.

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: 27078

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Holleyman, G A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Romano British Site On Wolstonbury Hill, (1935), 35-45
Holleyman, G A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Romano British Site On Wolstonbury Hill, (1935), 35-45
note only, Woodard, Sussex Notes and Queries, (1950)

End of official listing