Rackham Banks: A cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Oldbottom Barn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015720

Date first listed: 09-Nov-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Rackham Banks: A cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Oldbottom Barn
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

Parish: Amberley

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

Parish: Parham

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 05059 12540


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

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.

Itford Hill style settlements are small domestic settlements of one to three households, usually covering an area of between 1ha and 3ha, comprising a series of small banked compounds set back to back. The compounds are frequently associated with tracks and hollow ways which link the settlements to field systems, and round barrow cemeteries are often nearby. The settlements date to the Late Bronze Age (tenth to eighth centuries BC). Excavated examples have shown that the compounds usually contain circular wooden buildings varying in diameter from 3m to 8m, with entrance porches. Associated with these structures would have been a series of working areas and fenced compounds; small ponds have also been found. Finds, including loomweights and carbonised grain, provide evidence for the practice of a mixed farming economy. Itford Hill style settlements are found in southern England, principally on the chalk downland of Sussex where Itford Hill itself is located. They are a rare monument type, with less than 20 examples known nationally. All examples with surviving remains are considered to be of national importance. The cross dyke and Itford Hill style settlement, together known as Rackham Banks, survive well, despite some damage by later trackways and agricultural activity. Part excavation has shown that the settlement contains archaeological and environmental remains relating to its construction and use, and the cross dyke is a particularly impressive and well preserved example of its kind. Rackham Banks forms part of a dispersed group of broadly contemporary monuments situated along the ridge, providing important evidence for the relationship between burial practices, settlement and land division in this area of downland during the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric cross dyke and an associated Itford Hill style settlement situated on a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The NNE-SSW aligned cross dyke runs for c.250m across the ridge and has a large bank up to c.3.5m high and c.12m wide flanked to the south east by a ditch up to c.16m wide and c.2m deep. Two short sections of the earthworks near each end of the monument have been levelled by long-term use of downland tracks, and a third section near the centre of the dyke has been partly levelled by past modern agricultural activity. The north western edge of the bank has also been partly disturbed by modern ploughing. The associated Itford Hill style settlement abuts the central section of the cross dyke on its north western side. It is represented by an east-west aligned, oval enclosure which survives as a hollow measuring c.40m by c.25m, bisected by a low, north-south aligned bank. Records suggest that the enclosure was originally bounded by a bank and external ditch, although these have been levelled by modern ploughing. Analysis of a pottery sherd discovered during part excavation of the enclosure in 1929 has suggested that the settlement was occupied during the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age. 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: 29256

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, E, Allcroft, A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Rackham Bank and Earthwork, , Vol. 73, (1932), 169-186

End of official listing