Wolstonbury Camp: a Ram's Hill type enclosure on Wolstonbury Hill and associated later remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016153

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wolstonbury Camp: a Ram's Hill type enclosure on Wolstonbury Hill and associated later remains
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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 28410 13798


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.

Although it has been disturbed by 18th and 19th century flint digging, the enclosure on Wolstonbury Hill survives well, and has been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the period in which it was constructed and used. The enclosure is an unusual example of this class of monument because it has an internal boundary ditch. The monument forms part of a group of broadly contemporary monuments situated on Wolstonbury Hill, including a platform barrow (SM 27076), a cross dyke and a bowl barrow (which together comprise SM 27075). Their close association will provide evidence for the relationship between settlement exchange, burial practices and land division during the later prehistoric period. The evidenc efor later reuse of the hilltop during the Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods illustrates the way in which the hilltop has been used over the centuries.


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


The monument includes Wolstonbury Camp, a Late Bronze Age Ram's Hill type enclosure situated on a clay-with-flints capped, chalk hill which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The north-south aligned, roughly oval enclosure is defined by a ditch up to 5m wide and c.1.2m deep which bounds a central area of 2,2ha. Part excavation in 1929 and 1995, and a 1993 survey, have shown the ditch to be flat-bottomed and interrupted in places by narrow causeways, interpreted as original features. A bank of dump construction surrounds the ditch, measuring up to 5m wide and up to 1.5m high, and the ditch is flanked on its south western side by a slight internal bank up to 0.2m high. The earthworks have been disturbed in places by late 18th century-early 19th century flint diggings, mainly excavated by the inmates of Hursterpierpoint workhouse. Two gaps at the north and south east of the boundary earthworks have been interpreted as original entrances, although the flint diggings have obscured the original form of the enclosure in these areas. The later flint diggings have also disturbed much of the interior of the enclosure, although surveys have indicated roughly north-south aligned curving banks measuring 2m-4m wide and up to 0.5m high. These are interpreted as lynchets resulting from the subsequent cultivation of the interior during the Early Iron Age. It has also been suggested that the enclosure was remodelled during the Middle Iron Age. Antiquarian sources indicate that the monument may have been used as a cemetery during the later Anglo-Saxon period. Reports in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1765 and 1806 suggest that the inhumation burials furnished with grave goods were disturbed on the hilltop by flint quarrying and possibly also by the construction of the now dry dewpond situated in the central part of the enclosure. Other finds include worked flints dating the Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age and Roman coins and pottery. The Ordnance Survey trig point 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 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: 27077

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Enclosures on Wolstonbury Hill, Pyecombe, West Sussex, (1993)
Russell, M, Wolstonbury Hill, Pyecombe, West Sussex, (1994)
Russell, M, Wolstonbury Hill, Pyecombe, West Sussex, (1995)
Curwen, EC, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Wolstonbury, , Vol. 71, (1930), 237-245
Welch, M, 'British Archaeological Reports' in Early Anglo-Saxon Sussex, , Vol. 112 ii, (1983), 441-442

End of official listing