Prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow cemetery at Blackpatch, 400m north east of Myrtle Grove Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015880

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jun-1997


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow cemetery at Blackpatch, 400m north east of Myrtle Grove Farm
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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: Patching

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 09400 08786


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

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.

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst prehistoric communities. The prehistoric flint mine at Blackpatch survives comparatively well, despite levelling by modern agricultural operations, and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its original use. The close association of the flint mine with the broadly contemporary round barrow cemetery, and with an area of Bronze Age settlement c.1.5km to the north west, provides important evidence for the relationship between mining activity, settlement and burial practices in this area of downland during the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric flint mine and part of a round barrow cemetery situated on the south western slope of a chalk hill which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The flint mine, the earthwork remains of which were levelled by bulldozing around 1950, survives as a group of at least 64 roughly circular, infilled shafts up to c.6m in diameter, visible as crop marks on aerial photographs. The monument was partly excavated between 1922-1930, when eight of the shafts were investigated. They were found to be between 1m-3m deep and contained horizontal galleries up to c.8.5m long following the single seam of flint. Struck flint flakes and pottery sherds dating from the Late Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age were found within the shaft fills, as was an antler pick dated by radiocarbon analysis to c.3000 BC. Carved chalk objects, animal bones and several contemporary cremation burials were also discovered. Traces of working areas associated with the processing of the mined flint were identified in the areas between and around the shafts. The four bowl barrows originally formed part of a now levelled round barrow cemetery of at least 12 barrows, the remainder of which lie to the north east and are not included in the scheduling. Records relating to the archaeological investigations suggest that the barrows, which were also levelled by modern bulldozing, had roughly circular mounds covering burials dating to the Bronze Age. Three of the barrows were constructed over infilled flint mine shafts, and two also contained later burials dating to the pagan Anglo-Saxon period (AD 450-650).

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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: 29271

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Holgate, R, Prehistoric Flint Mines, (1991), 28

End of official listing