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South Downs National Park
Landscape Character Assessment

Chalk coastline Footpaths by river

Project type: Landscape Character Assessment

Archaeology South-East have recently completed a major Landscape Character Assessment project for the designated South Downs National Park. The LCA project as a whole was managed by Land Use Consultants (LUC), and ASE were commissioned to provide specialist advice relating to the development of the historic and built environments.

This involved contributing general archaeological and historical period overviews for the whole of the designated area (stretching from Eastbourne to Winchester), in addition to more detailed reviews of the historical landscape character of 49 individual character areas (e.g. Ouse to Eastbourne Open Downland, Froxfield Clay Plateau, Cuckmere Floodplain and Blackdown to Petworth Greensand Hills). A major part of the project involved the creation of a rapid Historic Landscape Characterisation map covering the East and West Sussex portions of the designated National Park (see and for more details of LCA and the designated South Downs National Park).

The designated National Park covers the South Downs, the adjacent Greensand terraces and a small part of the western Weald. It is a very rich and varied landscape, incorporated an archaeological record stretching from Boxgrove Man through to the Second World War and beyond. Although modern farming has taken its toll, extensive earthworks are still found on the downland, representing Bronze Age barrow cemeteries, Iron Age hillforts and prehistoric and Romano-British field systems. The Greensand shelf, below the northern scarp, retains a late medieval landscape of nucleated villages surrounded by irregular enclosed fields that were originally open and farmed communally, while the Weald is a complex landscape of medieval fields carved out of the surrounding woodland (assarts) and bounded by thick winding hedgerows and extensive patches of ancient (i.e. pre-1600) woodland.

Drainage ditch

The downs are themselves varied in nature, from the open prairie arable fields of East Sussex to the more intimate wooded downlands of West Sussex and Hampshire. West Sussex in particular still retains its identity as a gentry landscape, reflecting the influence of the powerful 18th century landed estates at Arundel, Goodwood and Stansted.




Project Officer: Richard James
Client: Land Use Consultants on behalf of Hampshire County Council
Project type: Landscape Character Assessment



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Chalk coastline


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