Archaeology South-East
Projects and Research

Cissbury Ring, Findon, near Worthing

Project type: Desk-Based Assessment

In January and February 2006, Archaeology South-East was commissioned by the National Trust to carry out an Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Cissbury Ring. The purpose of the work was to produce a definitive and up-to-date review of the historical landscape development of Cissbury and its immediate environs from Prehistory up to the present day. The ensuing report would provide the baseline information necessary to inform future management plans, in addition to providing detailed source material for interpretative and educational needs.

The work involved:

• A comprehensive review of existing archaeological and historical data, including archaeological information held by the West Sussex County Council Historic Environment Record, historic maps and air photographs, local histories, etc. A comprehensive search was made for published reports relating to earlier fieldwork on the site, including the work of Augustus Lane-Fox (later to become Pitt-Rivers) and Herbert Toms.
• A review of primary historical records held in a number of archives, including West Sussex Record Office, Arundel Castle and the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office).
• A comprehensive archaeological walkover survey of the property to record all known archaeological landscape features, and to identify and record any previously unrecorded features. The resulting data was used to compile a gazetteer of all historic landscape features on the property.

Six main categories of archaeological importance were identified on the property:

• Neolithic flint mines - surviving as a dramatic industrial landscape.
• Iron Age hillfort - a prominent landscape feature of which little is still known.
• Late Iron Age/Romano-British field systems – evidence of farming activity after the hillfort had gone out of use as a defensive/symbolic site. The field systems exist within the fort interior and can also be traced in several places outside the defences.
• Role in development of archaeological techniques – Cissbury played an important part in the development of the techniques used in modern scientific archaeology: Lane-Fox's recognition of the relationship between the Neolithic flint-mine shafts and the Iron Age hillfort defences was instrumental in the formulation of the principles of archaeological stratigraphy, while the early survey work carried out by Toms on the earthworks was an important early contribution to landscape archaeology, particularly the relative chronological relationship between landscape features.
• Second World War military sites – including anti-aircraft/searchlight batteries, trench systems associated with D-Day training and a possibly rare surviving stretch of anti-tank ditch.
• Trackways – the multitude of ancient trackways on and around the hill form part of a much more extensive network criss-crossing the Downs.

The National Trust and Archaeology South-East are committed to widening public access to the results of current archaeological research. Digital copies of the report (on CD) have been lodged with Worthing Reference Library; Worthing, Brighton and Lewes Museums; West Sussex Historic Environment Record and the West Sussex Record Office (R. James, Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey: Cissbury Ring, West Sussex, Archaeology South-East Report 2241, June 2006).


Project Officer:
Richard James
Client: National Trust
Project type: Desk-Based Assessment



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Cissbury Rings - National Trust

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