Medieval settlement in Eastdean Park, 670m north east of Counter's Gate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018038

Date first listed: 02-Apr-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement in Eastdean Park, 670m north east of Counter's Gate
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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: East Dean

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 89955 12029


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs, where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval.

Medieval dispersed settlements were agricultural hamlets, or small groups of farmsteads or dwellings, several of which might have been sited within a parish or township. Although sometimes sharing resources such as meadows or woodlands, dispersed settlements were not, unlike contemporary villages, organised around a centralised, communal administration. Dispersed settlements varied in form and extent, but when they survive as earthworks they usually include tracks, platforms on which stood houses and ancillary buildings, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks.

The medieval settlement in Eastdean Park, 670m north east of Counter's Gate, survives well and represents the less common, dispersed form of rural settlement found within the chalk downland valleys of the East Wessex sub- Province. Investigations have demonstrated that the monument retains archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its original construction and use.

The medieval settlement may overlie traces of earlier, Iron Age and Roman occupation, illustrating the continuity of settlement location in this area of downland from the late prehistoric to the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval dispersed settlement situated at the head of a coomb, on the north-facing slope of a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs.

A 1992 survey identified the remains of at least three structures, which survive in earthwork form and as ruined sections of mortared, flint rubble wall visible to a height of up to 2m in places. These represent the main dwelling houses, yards and outbuildings of the settlement. Investigations carried out in 1964 suggested that the buildings are of 14th and 16th century date and finds recovered included 14th century pottery sherds and oyster shells. The presence in the coomb of an underground watercourse, indicated by a flint-lined well in the north eastern part of the monument, explains the establishment of the settlement on higher ground, around 1km south of the River Lavant.

Earlier occupation in and around the area of the medieval settlement was demonstrated by finds of Iron Age and Roman pottery and a Roman cremation burial. Further buried remains relating to these earlier periods will survive beneath the later medieval settlement. Earthworks can also be traced in the areas beyond the monument, including part of a boundary earthwork to the east, but these are not sufficiently understood and are therefore not included in the scheduling.

Historical records show that the medieval settlement lies in an area established as parkland by at least 1189. Features associated with the use of the park for deer management can also be expected to survive in the area around the monument.

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: 31205

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Kenny, J, 'Archaeology of Chichester and District' in East Dean: Eastdean Park, (1992), 30-31

End of official listing