A few days ago I was out at Beeding Hill in West Sussex testing my Hubsan H501S quadcopter to see if I could determine why it was malfunctioning. It appears to be an antenna problem, by the way. But I got a nice shot of the view from Beeding Hill across to Chanctonbury Hill. The major geographic feature between Beeding and Chanctonbury is the Adur Valley, through which the River Adur flows on its way to the English Channel.
There’s nothing particularly special about Beeding Hill, by the way, so there won’t be a Yank in Sussex video forthcoming about it, but Chanctonbury is another matter! Chanctonbury Hill features a prehistoric structure called the Chanctonbury Ring. The Ring is a late Bronze or early Iron age hill fort — but whether it was originally intended as a defensive, religious, or agricultural structure is unknown. Although it has apparently been used for all three purposes over the 2,700-ish years of its existence, it was essentially abandoned as a purposeful structure sometime around 400 CE.
The probable reason why there’s a fort on the hill is because of the hill’s evident prominence: you can see it from everywhere — it rather stands out. As you can see, there is a copse of trees on the hill, but they haven’t always been there. They arrived as a personal project of a certain 16-year old young man, Charles Goring, whose family owned (and still owns) the land the Ring sits on. Charles wanted to beautify the site, so in 1760 he planted a ring of beech trees just inside and outside the rampart of the hill fort. It was this ring of trees that gave the site its name, by the way, and not the hill fort’s rampart.
About 150 years later the Goring family decided to plant beech trees in the interior of the hill fort. Which actually ended up being somewhat fortunate, since during preparations for planting they discovered large quantities of Romano-British pottery and building rubble, which prompted the first archaeological excavation of the hill fort. In the course of the excavation two Roman temples were uncovered within the ramparts of the fort! There have been further archaeological investigations at the site since that day.
Some time this summer I will be climbing that hill in order to take videos and photographs of the site, and thus in a few months time there will be A Yank In Sussex video about Chanctonbury Hill on my YouTube channel. I’m looking forward to working on it!