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Butser Hill

  • Stuart Piggott (a1)

The traveller from London to Portsmouth by road, as he leaves Petersfield (fifty miles from his starting point and twenty from his objective) sees before him, above the copses and hopfields, a great green hill like the overturned hull of some gigantic ship. Looking southwards, he sees to the east the line of the Sussex Downs and to the west the less definite Hampshire ridge, and between them this majestic hill-Butser. Approaching nearer, the spurs which run out from the main mass show clearly the sunken tracks that wind up to the high level plateau above; and through the deep road-cutting across the col connecting Butser with Wardown on the east, a green land of ridges and hollows, of downs studded with juniper and thorn and of coombes with their sides covered with yew and whitebeam is entered. A yard from the road and there is untouched downland where one may walk all day and see no one but the occasional desecrating workman who strips Butser of its turf so that the suburbs of Southsea may have tennis courts.

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1 This peculiarity is paralleled in a similar earthwork in Wilts., near Burcombe Punch Bowl. See Sumner, Heywood, Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, plan35, and p. 63.

2 Prehistoric Sussex,1929, pp.140–1.

3 Sumner, Heywood, op. cit.

4 Sumner, Heywood, plan36.

5 Field Archaeology of Hampshire, p.273.

6 Wilts. Arch. Mag.,37,4265.

7 Sussex Arch. Coll.,70,72.

8 Antiq. Fourn.,7,438464; VII, 466–77.

9 DrEric, Gardner,‘Hambledon Hill’ in Wessex from the Air, pp.44–7.

10 This suggestion, first put forward at a meeting there of the Hampshire Field Club (August 1929), is strikingly confirmed by a fine series of air–photos taken last winter. We hope to publish a detailed description of Ladle Hill in a forthcoming number.—ED.

11 Sussex Arch. Coll,70,36, and ANTIQUITY, IV, 32.

12 It may be worth while noting that there is a fine disc barrow immediately outside LadJe Hill camp, and another near Coombe Hill (neolithic) camp, Eastbourne; and there are groups of round barrows within the earthworks at Windmill Hill and Scratchbury, Wilts.

13 In his article onWudu–burh, in Wessex from the Air, p.137.

14 This name, though clumsy, has been adopted because it assumes no purpose for the type, which the alternatives, ‘covered way’ or ‘cattle way’, do.

* I am now convinced that some pillow–mounds at any rate were certainly built to provide accommodation for rabbits. There is a large group of them at Ditsworthy Warren on Dartmoor, and most of them are today full of rabbits. They are made of earth and stone, and are particularly numerous in the immediate vicinity of the Warren House itself.—O.G.S.C.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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