Chanctonbury Ring and Hill Fort

Managed by the Wiston Estate
Coordinates: 50°54'N 0°22'W
Grid ref: TQ139120
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Chanctonbury ring offers one of the great views on the South Downs.

The site covers around 60 acres and had an iron age hill fort dating back to around 500 BC, but is there is also evidence of an earlier 6,000 year old Neolithic flint mine.

Great views from Chanctonbury Ring

Chanctonbury Ring is a hill fort, now comprised of a ring of trees. Despite what it might look like today, the trees you can see were actually only planted about 250 years ago by local man Charles Goring when he was 16. Many of his trees were lost in the storm of 1987 that hit the whole south coast, but the area has recovered well since. The Ring lies in the plantation at the top, but it is a landscape that is evidently rich in symbolism and meaning for local communities.

Iron age Chanctonbury inhabitants protect the fort

Features visible in the interior as earthworks include lyncheted fields, pits and small enclosures associated primarily with Iron Age and Roman activity on the hill. This chalk spiral decorates a prehistoric linear earthwork just to the west of the hill fort and Roman temple complex which comprise of two main buildings originally.

Chanctonbury chalk spiral and tree ring

Symbolism of the Ring

Local folklore suggests it was built by the Devil and that he can be summoned by running round the Rings seven times, but no-one seems quite fit enough to do that as yet!

Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men on May 1st

The local Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men recently appeared in a butter commercial with Johnny Rotten (PIL and the Sex Pistols) and still perform here every year at 7 a.m. on May 1st to welcome in the summer.

Nearby Cissbury Ring from the air in 1945

Farming using mechanised tractors and ploughs in the last 50 years has removed much of the evidence of the extensive archaeology around the area of the Chanctonbury Ring.

Modern farming methods flatten ancient features

Chanctonbury and nearby Cissbury Rings - See Map

About the South Downs

The South Downs Way covers Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex in England and is part of the South Downs National Park, created in 2011. Along the 100 mile (160km) South Downs National Trail you can walk, cycle or ride along grassy chalk and flint ridges, wander up challenging hills and take in the fantastic views of hills, downlands, woodlands, grasslands, coast and estuaries.

Want more of the Downs? See YouTube heritage video channel videos

South Downs Sounds

South Downs Interactive

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