Flint mine on Stoke Down, immediately north of Stoke Clump
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Sussex
- Chichester (District Authority)
- West Sussex
- Chichester (District Authority)
- National Park:
- SOUTH DOWNS
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 83374 09555
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.
The flint mine immediately north of Stoke Clump survives well below ground, despite its surface features having been levelled by modern ploughing. Part excavation and a survey of aerial photographs has shown that it contains important archaeological remains relating to the original use of the monument. The flint mine forms part of a group of broadly contemporary monuments situated in this area of downland, including barrows, settlements and a linear boundary, providing evidence for the developing pattern of land use during the prehistoric period.
The monument includes a prehistoric flint mine situated on the north eastern
slope of a chalk spur which forms part of the Sussex Downs.
Surviving mainly in the form of infilled buried features, the monument has
been shown by a survey of aerial photographs to contain the remains of a
linear group of at least 70 roughly circular pits up to 9m in diameter, which
were dug to reach the underground seams of flint. These are surrounded by now
levelled, overlapping spoil heaps which are visible as lighter areas in the
soil. Three of the pits were excavated during the early 20th century,
revealing that they survive to a depth of up to 4.5m. Flint and antler tools
were recovered from the pits during these excavations, as well as part of a
stone saddle quern.
Further, as yet unconfirmed remains of the mine may extend into the areas
beyond the scheduling.
All modern fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
RCHME (forthcoming), Industry and Enclosure in the Neolithic: West Stoke Flint Mines, 1994,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing