Neolithic fun

What a difference a day makes! While the morning started a bit bleak, the sun eventually came out and the blue sky put in an appearance or two. The perfect day for climbing hills and looking at causewayed enclosures. Or one, at any rate.

For ages, Dawn & I have been trying to have a museum day but for one reason or another, it’s not been possible. What with children, dogs and funerals, the date has been continually put back until today. But, rather than go to a museum, we decided to go and visit a site that Dawn wanted to visit as part of her PhD.

Halnaker (pronounced Hanakah) Hill is just outside Chichester and very near to Selhurstpark Farm, where we dug for a few years. In fact, Dawn’s 2008 master’s trench was dug there. The photos are here.

On top of the hill is a windmill. It no longer operates but is a highly visible landmark, standing higher than anything for many miles around.

Halnaker windmill, East Sussex

It sits in one ‘corner’ of what was originally, the enclosure. Also on the hill is what appears to be a World War Two gun emplacement…or the remains of one. A wonderful octagonal brick structure with a round base for the gun to sit on.

We wandered around, looking for any evidence of the enclosure but the crops were high in the fields (wheat, barley, some sort of grain), obliterating anything that may have been apparent. A low hump of earth was evident in one area but this could have been from the time that the windmill was operational.

Still, it was a great chance to make guesses at the uses for the enclosure. The views are a full 360 degrees with nothing to block them. Breathtaking, really.

Fields looking roughly north from the windmill

We discussed the possibility that it could have been a market, open only certain times of the year. Being so prominent in the landscape would mean it would be easy to locate for traders. We tend to shy away from anything that may smack of ritual and religion but it could have been for ceremonial use as well.

It felt fantastic up on the hill. The weather was kind, the clouds tending to blow away, revealing glimpses of blue sky and we enjoyed the breezes as we wandered around the windmill. I’ve walked by it a few times, when I was digging at Selhurst, but this was the first time I’d visited. Dawn saw it when she was younger but hadn’t been back for many years.

After exhausting all possible explanations (and inventing a few new ones) we wandered back down the hill to the car and drove to a lovely little pub in Lavant called the Earl of March. It is claimed that William Blake wrote the words to Jerusalem there. I’m reading about Edward I at the moment and the Marcher Lords feature quite prominently, however, the pub has not always been the Earl of March so any references to my current reading is, sadly, non-existent.

We had a lovely pub lunch and a few pints of Harvey’s – always an excellent beer – before heading for home.

A wonderful day, in wonderful company.

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2 Responses to Neolithic fun

  1. mum cook says:

    How come there were no pics of you? It sounds like you had a lovely day and thank goodness the weather was nice.
    Love mum

  2. Mirinda says:

    The views are wonderful. I do so love the English countryside. But personally I’ve always thought the words of Jerusalem are a bit stupid.
    No I don’t think Jesus took a gap year and popped over to old blighty for some fishnchips and put up at Bognor Regis.

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