Neolithic causewayed enclosure and associated remains on Court Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018037

Date first listed: 21-Oct-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Neolithic causewayed enclosure and associated remains on Court Hill
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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: Singleton

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 89766 13782


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

Reasons for Designation

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500 years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to 70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered to be nationally important.

Despite disturbance by modern cultivation, investigations have shown that both the Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Court Hill and the associated settlement earthwork to the north will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The close association between the two earthworks, and the presence of other prehistoric monuments in the area, including cross dykes, burial mounds and another causewayed enclosure, provide evidence for the relationship between settlement, land division and burial practices during the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and an associated earthwork on Court Hill, situated at the end of a chalk spur which projects to the south west from the main ridge of the Sussex Downs. This location enjoys extensive views of the surrounding downland landscape.

The enclosure on Court Hill was partly excavated in 1982 when it was dated, by radiocarbon analysis, to around 3300 BC. Environmental evidence collected during the investigations suggests that the enclosure was constructed in a small woodland clearing, and finds included fragments of Neolithic pottery and worked flint. A survey in 1995 revealed that the roughly circular enclosure is defined by a bank flanked by an external ditch of causewayed construction. A slight berm separates the ditch from the bank and traces of an outer bank were identified on the north western side of the enclosure. Access to the interior, which covers an area of about 2.3ha, was by way of a simple entrance on the north eastern side.

The earthworks have been partly levelled by modern ploughing and survive mainly in the form of a slight scarp and as buried features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. A more pronounced section of the north eastern earthworks survives below the summit of the hill as a bank up to about 0.4m high and 6m wide, and a partly infilled ditch up to 5m wide and 0.3m deep. The investigations revealed that the original ditch bottom still survives at a depth of up to 1.1m below ground. The earthworks have been partly disturbed by later tracks and by windblown trees.

Aerial photographs have revealed an associated south west-north east aligned, crescent-shaped earthwork extending across the north western slope of Court Hill, around 25m to the north of the main enclosure earthworks. It was partly excavated in 1982 and is considered to represent a contemporary settlement boundary. The earthworks survive as a slight bank which is flanked on its southern, uphill side by an infilled ditch of causewayed construction. House platforms, burial mounds and a range of prehistoric artefacts were discovered in the vicinity of the earthwork in 1951.

Finds of pottery and flint tools indicate that Court Hill was reused for farming in the later prehistoric and Romano-British periods. The activities of these farmers is demonstrated by the slight remains of south west-north east aligned strip lynchets which mainly extend across the southern and north western slopes of the hill beyond the monument. Part of a lynchet overlies the earlier, Neolithic earthworks to the north west and this section is therefore included in the scheduling.

Cartographic evidence suggests that the plantation on Court Hill, and the earthen embankment around its eastern edge, date to a period of 18th century landscaping on the Goodwood Estates.

The modern Ordnance Survey trig pillar and all modern fences which cross 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: 31204

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Court Hill, West Sussex, (1995)

End of official listing