Thundersbarrow Hillfort

An Iron Age enclosure, inhabited between 600 and 400 BC, containing a late Bronze Age ‘Martin Down’ style enclosure. An excellent position for an enclosure, within two miles of both the sea, and the (major) river Adur, and sharing the same massif as Devil’s Dyke (though the other side). Much plough denuded.

Understood by Curwen (the original excavator in the 1930s) to have been inhabited throughout the Romano-British period; ‘The village now survives in buried form, and topographical survey and part excavation in 1932 identified the focus of the village as two adjacent roughly square platforms with sides measuring c.30m, containing a number of rectangular houses c.5m by c.3.5m.’ (1)

There is an extensive field system surrounding the enclosure; ‘The agricultural activities practiced by the inhabitants of the village are represented by the contemporary field system which survives on the hillslopes which form the southern, western and eastern sides of the ridge.’ (ibid)


Summary from the Atlas of Hillforts:

Univallate partial contour hillfort located on the NNW-SSE aligned chalk ridge of Thundersbarrow Hill on the Sussex Downs. Steep downland surrounds, rather more on NE and less on S. Site tipped across contours to SSE.

Associated with a Bronze Age Martin Down style enclosure, within the later hillfort, Romano-British farmstead/aggregate village and associated regular field system nearby and WWI and WWII features on the site.

Site almost destroyed by ploughing. Two phases of site noted in 1932 excavations (Curwen 1933), with the probable Iron Age, hillfort enclosing c. 1.2ha with the Bronze Age enclosure within c. 0.49ha. Latter partly excavated (Rudling 1985) as roughly square, slightly raised, enclosure with infilled ditch, now more or less ploughed out.

Fragments of bone, pottery sherds of c. ninth and tenth centuries BC, and worked flint found in ditch fills. The roughly circular hillfort, formerly with bank and ditch, now partly levelled, and survives to E largely in buried form.

Pottery excavated suggests construction during the sixth century BC and continued in use until the mid third century BC. Hillfort then abandoned, with Romano-British farmstead/aggregate village and field system on E, S and W sides of ridge (now cropmarks) established, c. 50 BC ,nearby to E and lasting till c. AD 400. Remains of inturned entrances in the N and S sides. On 1st Ed. OS map (1873-5).

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at:

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.