The Trundle Hillfort

The Trundle

St. Roche’s Hill has seen a great deal of activity and occupation throughout history and prehistory. The Iron Age hillfort encloses (and covers parts of) a much older Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure.* There is however some indication that the Causewayed Enclosure may extend outside the hillfort. (1)

The hillfort consists of a single bank and ditch, which encloses 17.87 acres, or 7.23 hectares of land, as measured from the outermost part of the outer ditch. The banks average a height of 1.8 metres as measured from the interior, and the ditches have an average depth of the same. There are two inturned entrances, one on the North East circuit and one on the West.

The word ‘trundle’ apparently comes from the Old English ‘tryndle’, meaning circle or ring, and is echoed in the name of Trendle Ring Hillfort, in Bicknoller, Somerset.

Possible intervisibility with Harting Beacon Hillfort 6.36 miles or 10.24 kilometres distant.

*An enigmatic and intriguing class of monument, which I will certainly get around to producing a distribution map of.

  1. Pastscape record for Trundle Causewayed Enclosure.

“The well-preserved earthworks of complex Neolithic causewayed enclosure underlying The Trundle hillfort on St Roche’s Hill. The Trundle is the largest and most complex of the West Sussex enclosures, comprising at least four Neolithic earthworks, probably more, and enclosing at least 7 hectares.

It was originally identified as a possible Neolithic enclosure by OGS Crawford from an aerial photograph in 1925. Excavations by Curwen in 1928 and 1930 confirmed this. Smaller scale excavation occurred in 1980, while small-scale geophysical survey was undertaken in the late 1980s. The earthworks were re-surveyed by RCHME in 1995, as part of the project focusing on Neolithic causewayed enclosures and related sites. The survey demonstrated that the Neolithic earthworks are far more complex than had been suggested by Curwen’s survey and excavations. He had identified three circuits – an inner ditch, a second spiral ditch, and an outer ditch which was largely overlain by the later Iron Age earthworks. In fact, the earthworks seem to represent an inner ditch, a concentric second ditch, and the remainder of the spiral ditch appears instead to represent two whole or partial overlapping circuits. Traces of the outer ditch are also possibly represented by cropmarks which suggests that it may have extended beyond the Iron Age ramparts.

The earthwork is assigned to the fourth millennium based on its segmented form and its relationship with the hillfort. The radiocarbon dates from the site are compatible with an initial construction date in the mid-fourth millennium cal BC or later. Any advance in our understanding of the chronology of this major complex depends on further excavation.”

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