Long Down prehistoric flint mine


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017521

Date first listed: 23-Sep-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Long Down prehistoric flint mine
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Eartham

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 93138 09357


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.

Although it has been partly levelled by ploughing, the flint mine on Long Down survives well. Part excavation and detailed survey have confirmed that it retains important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its original use.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric flint mine situated on a chalk spur which projects to the south west from a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The mine survives mainly as an area of hummocky ground and contains at least 50 partly infilled shafts. These are represented by up to 1m deep, roughly circular hollows with diameters ranging from 3m to 15m. The monument was partly excavated in 1955-57 and 1985, when several shafts were investigated. Analysis of flint implements, antler picks and fragments of pottery found within and around the shafts indicated that the mine was in use during the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. Flanking the shafts are irregular spoil heaps up to 2m high. Traces of the working areas where the mined flint was processed have been identified in the areas between and around the earthworks. Ploughing of the northern and eastern parts of the monument in the years following excavation has partly levelled the earthworks, and the shafts survive in these areas as mainly below ground features. A group of lynchets, or cultivation boundaries, which overlie the earlier flint mine, have been dated to the medieval period. The monument was surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1994. The modern fences which cross the monument, and the modern concrete base of the now removed water tank situated within the south eastern corner of the monument, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 29295

Legacy System: RSM


RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)
RCHME, Long Down Flint Mine, Eartham, Sussex: A Survey by RCHME, (1996)

End of official listing