Highdown Hill Camp: A Ram's Hill type enclosure, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and associated remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015877

Date first listed: 09-Sep-1930

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jun-1997


Ordnance survey map of Highdown Hill Camp: A Ram's Hill type enclosure, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and associated remains
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Arun (District Authority)

Parish: Ferring

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 09272 04341


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

Reasons for Designation

Ram's Hill type enclosures were constructed on hilltops in southern England throughout the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). They usually survive as an oval area of up to c.5ha defended by a single bank and external ditch interrupted by simple causewayed entrances. Traces of circular houses have been found within the interiors, and associated field systems have been identified nearby; the enclosures are therefore interpreted as the sites of domestic settlement. Some examples, such as the earliest phase of the enclosure on Ram's Hill itself, may have been occupied on a temporary seasonal basis, and evidence for episodes of feasting on a social or ceremonial scale has been found. In several cases, investigations have provided evidence for the remodelling and reuse of the enclosures during the later prehistoric and Roman periods. Sparsely distributed throughout central southern England, Ram's Hill type enclosures are one of very few classes of monument dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age. They are a rare monument type; less than 10 have been positively identified. All examples with surviving remains are therefore considered to be of national importance.

Anglo-Saxon cemeteries date to the early medieval period, from the fifth to seventh centuries AD. Associated with the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, these pagan cemeteries can include both inhumation, involving the placing of burials in rectangular graves, and cremation, where burnt remains were placed in containers which were then buried in small pits in the ground. In each type of burial the human remains might be accompanied by those of animals and by grave goods, including jewellery and weapons. Cemeteries containing up to several thousand burials are known, and individual examples may have been in use for up to 300 years. Anglo-Saxon cemeteries represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the early medieval period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection. The Ram's Hill type enclosure and Anglo-Saxon cemetery on Highdown Hill survive well, as will buried evidence for the World War II radar installations. Investigations have shown that the monument retains important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its use over a period of at least three thousand years.


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


The monument includes a Ram's Hill type enclosure, a later, Anglo-Saxon mixed-rite cemetery and associated remains, including a medieval post mill, situated on an isolated chalk hill which rises above the West Sussex coastal plain c.4km south of the main ridge of the Sussex Downs. The Ram's Hill type enclosure, which dates to the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC), is a roughly east-west aligned, raised sub-oval area of c.1ha, the southern part of which is bounded by a bank up to c.0.5m high and c.8m wide, surrounded by a c.10m wide ditch. To the north, where the ground falls away steeply, the defences survive as a simple scarp. The southern ramparts are flanked by a second, smaller bank, which has been interpreted as an original feature, although its profile has been altered by long term ploughing. Arable cultivation has also partly disturbed the western ramparts. Access to the interior was by way of a c.8m wide gateway through the southern ramparts. Investigations of the enclosure during the 19th and 20th centuries indicated that its defences were remodelled at least once during the later prehistoric period. Traces of contemporary buildings and substantial amounts of pottery fragments and other artefacts were also revealed within the defended area, providing evidence for intensive use during the Middle and Late Bronze Age. Fragments of Romano-British pottery sherds found within the enclosure suggest that it was also reused after the Roman invasion of AD 43. The Anglo-Saxon cemetery, which includes both cremation and inhumation burials, is centred within the earlier enclosure. Over 150 burials have been discovered, and analysis of the accompanying grave goods, or artefacts deposited with the bodies, has indicated that the cemetery was in use during the fifth and sixth centuries AD. Buried foundations of contemporary structures, interpreted as buildings associated with the cemetery, have been found within the south eastern sector of the monument. The later medieval post mill survives as a circular mound c.14m in diameter and up to c.0.5m high, and is sited in the south western sector of the earlier enclosure. Historical records and cartographic evidence suggest that a windmill was first constructed on the hill during the late 12th century. The post mill fell into disuse and was dismantled during the mid-19th century. During World War II the monument was used as the site of a now demolished radar station, the construction of which partly disturbed the interior and ramparts of the earlier enclosure. Nineteenth century tree planting has also caused some damage to the central part of the monument. The eastern edge of the enclosure was destroyed by an 18th or 19th century chalk extraction pit, and this area is therefore not included in the scheduling. The modern Ordnance Survey trig pillar 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.


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

Legacy System number: 29268

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Report On The Excavations on Highdown Hill, Sussex, August 1939, , Vol. 81, (1940), 173-203
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations on Highdown Hill, 1947, , Vol. 89, (1950), 163-178
Gardiner, M, Excavations at Highdown Hill, 1988, 1996, unpublished excavation report

End of official listing