Prehistoric flint mine and a Martin Down style enclosure on Harrow hill, 850m south east of Lee Farm


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
Arun (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 08162 09986

Reasons for Designation

Flint mines are found where, during Neolithic and Early Bronze Age times (c.3500-1200 BC), nodules of flint were extracted from underground seams within chalk deposits. There is no pattern or regular form to the arrangement of mine sites as the shafts, pits or open-cast workings are closely related to the underlying supplies of flint rather than an overall scheme of how the mine should be organised. In general, however, the shafts, pits and spoil heaps are closely packed together and sometimes even abut one another. In overall size, flint mines range from single shafts and associated works covering less than 1ha, to large mines of several hundred shafts spread over an extensive area. Flint mines provided high quality flint for implement manufacture in the millennia before the widespread availability of metal; the discovery of ceremonial deposits, including carved objects, in some shafts indicates the importance ascribed to them by early prehistoric communities. The workings were excavated by hand with antler picks and a selection of specialist bone, antler, wood and flint tools. Extensive flint knapping floors, areas where the mined flint was worked, are sometimes found within and around the mine area, along with hearths and traces of timber buildings. Evidence of secondary uses of abandoned flint mines is fairly common, and human burials dating from Neolithic times onwards are regularly found in the upper fills of pits and shafts. The hollows left in the tops of infilled shafts also provided suitable areas for occupation long after the mines themselves had gone out of use. The distribution of flint mines is largely dictated by the extent of the Upper Chalk, which is the geological band in which seams of flint occur. Flint mines are known in most areas of Upper Chalk outcrops and generally occur on the tops of hills or ridges, or along their flanking slopes, from Norfolk to Dorset. The earliest sites, dating to the Early and Middle Neolithic period, are clustered on the Sussex Downs. Flint mines are a rare monument type, with only around 20 examples known nationally. One of relatively few classes of monuments dating to all phases of the Neolithic period, they contain evidence relating to technology and work organisation in the period and represent the source of the most commonly used and widespread material available for making edged tools and implements. All well-preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Martin Down enclosures (named after a typical example on Martin Down in Dorset) are small, usually sub-rectangular areas usually covering less than 0.3ha. originally bounded by a low bank and/or fence with a surrounding ditch. Most have a single entrance, identified by a causeway over the ditch. Dating to the Late Bronze Age, from the tenth to eighth centuries BC, these enclosures are interpreted as domestic settlements, and excavated examples have been found to contain circular structures, post holes, pits, hollows and burnt mounds, associated with querns, pottery, animal bones, charred grain, worked flint artefacts and metalwork. In some cases, as with the enclosure on Martin Down itself, they are associated with contemporary field systems. They appear mainly on the chalk downland of central southern England, although examples in Kent, Sussex, East Anglia and the Midlands are also known. Generally constructed on the flanks of hills, they have also been identified in valley bottoms and on hilltops. Because they are usually situated on good agricultural land, many have been levelled by subsequent ploughing and survive largely in buried form, often visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. Fewer than 15 examples have been positively identified so far. Martin Down enclosures are thus a very rare monument type and form one of a limited range of monuments dating to the Late Bronze Age. All examples with surviving remains are considered to merit protection.

The Flint mines and Martin Down style enclosure on Harrow Hill survive well, despite some modern disturbance, and part excavation has shown them to contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the varying uses of the hilltop over at least four millennia.


The monument includes a Neolithic flint mine and a later, Martin Down style enclosure dating to the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age, situated on a chalk hill which forms part of the Sussex Downs. Around 245 flint mine shafts and pits have been identified by a 1994 survey and earlier investigation, occupying around 8ha of the hilltop. To the north and east is an area of large, partly infilled shafts which survive as roughly circular hollows up to 19.5m in diameter and 1.8m deep. These are surrounded by irregular, overlapping spoil heaps up to 1m high. Part excavation in 1924-25 and 1936 showed that the shafts take the form of bell-shaped pits about 5m deep containing horizontal galleries excavated along the seams of flint. Finds discovered within the shafts included mining tools made from worked flints and animal bones, carved chalk blocks and charcoal. An antler pick from one shaft has been dated by radio-carbon analysis to c.3710 BC. Pictograms, or engraved designs, were found above the entrances to some galleries. These were interpreted by the excavator as miners' tallies. The southern part of the mine survives as an area of hummocky ground which has been interpreted as a slightly later phase of flint extraction utilising different mining techniques, including open-cast mining. Part excavation during the 1980s identified areas used for the initial processing of the mined flint between and around the shafts and pits. The analysis of snail species found within the shaft fills has shown that the hill was under woodland when the mines were in use. The south eastern part of the monument has been partly levelled and disturbed by modern ploughing. The later, east-west aligned rectangular enclosure is situated on the western side of the monument and partly overlies some of the more westerly flint mine shafts. It is a raised area of c.0.4ha enclosed by a bank up to 6m wide and 0.6m high. This is surrounded by a ditch up to 4.5m wide and 0.5m deep, flanked by a slight counterscarp bank 4.5m wide and 0.4m high. Access to the interior was by way of a centrally placed, inturned entrance 6m wide through the western ramparts. The enclosure was partly excavated in 1936, when pottery sherds dating to c.600 BC were discovered. The excavations also revealed that the enclosure bank had been reinforced with a timber palisade, and that the entrance contained a timber gateway. Around 100 ox skulls were found, indicating that the primary purpose of the enclosure may have been stock rearing, meat processing or feasting. A fenced, covered reservoir built during the 1950s has destroyed part of the western ditch and counterscarp bank of the enclosure, and this area is therefore not included in the scheduling. The modern field fence which crosses the monument is excluded from the scheduling , although the ground beneath it 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.

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Books and journals
Oswald, A et al, Neolithic Flint Mines on Harrow Hill, Angmering, West Sussex, (1994)
Holleyman, G, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Harrow Hill Excavations, 1936, , Vol. 78, (1937), 230-281


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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