Cross dyke on Steep Down, 700m north east of Beggars Bush


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018566

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke on Steep Down, 700m north east of Beggars Bush
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Adur (District Authority)

Parish: Sompting

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 16655 07570


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

Reasons for Designation

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Despite some subesquent disturbance, the cross dyke 700m north east of Beggars Bush survives well and will retain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction and original function of the monument. The monument is one of a pair of cross dykes on Steep Down; the other is some 700m to the south and is the subject of a separate scheduling. These, and other broadly contemporary monuments in this area of downland, provide important information about the use of the landscape for settlement, burial and agriculture during the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes the western portion of a cross dyke constructed across the western slope of Steep Down, which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The roughly east-west aligned cross dyke survives as an approximately 200m long ditch up to about 6m wide and 1m deep, flanked to the north by slight traces of a bank up to about 5m wide and 0.2m high. The earthworks have been partly disturbed by rabbits, scrub growth and past modern ploughing. To the west the earthworks fade out as the ground falls away. To the east, the cross dyke ends abruptly at the modern field boundary fence, beyond which the dyke originally continued across Steep Down, but the earthworks here have been completely levelled by modern ploughing and are therefore not included in the scheduling.

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: 31215

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing