Remains of Whitehawk Camp, with the grandstand of Brighton Racecourse behind.
|Alternative name||Whitehawk causewayed enclosure|
|Location||Near Brighton, East Sussex|
|Periods||Windmill Hill culture|
Whitehawk Camp, on Whitehawk Hill is one of the earliest signs of human habitation in Brighton and Hove, Sussex, England. It is the remains of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure inhabited sometime around 2700 BCE and is a scheduled ancient monument. It has been described as one of the first monuments in England to be identified as being of national importance, and one of the most important Neolithic sites in the country.
The camp reaches 396 feet (121 m) feet above sea level and measures 950 feet (290 m) feet by 700 feet (213 m) feet. It is made up of four concentric ditches broken up by causeways. It is thought to have been used by people for between 155 and 230 years.
The users of the camp grew cultivars of wheat and barley. Their tools were likely to have been made of wood, no flint sickles have been found on the hill. There are flint saws, which were used to cut through the bones of herded animals. There is not however much evidence of inhabitation. The location of the camp, between the two highest points of the hill, does not suggest it was built as something to be defended.:41-43
The camp is one of only twelve remaining examples of a causewayed enclosure from the Windmill Hill culture in Britain and one of three known to have existed in the South Downs. It predates Avebury and Stonehenge by up to 1000 years. The first written mention of the camp (as "White Hawke Hill") was in 1587.
The camp was the first scheduled ancient monument in Sussex. It was excavated three times between 1929 and 1935. The 1932 excavation was carried out by Cecil Curwen and found the remains of humans buried together with fossilised sea urchins. The 1935 dig was a rescue dig by students of Mortimer Wheeler, when a road was driven through the camp. Much of the camp was, by that time, levelled under Brighton Racecourse and allotments.
The remains of four complete burials were found, including the bodies of an eight-year-old child and a young woman buried alongside the remains of a newborn child, as well as some other human bones. Also found in the infill of the circular ditches were many flint tools, potshards and animal bones.
Only part of the causewayed enclosure has been investigated by archaeologists. When a small housing estate was built on the west side of the camp, a prehistoric ditch was excavated between 1991 and 1993.
The Whitehawk Camp partnership was founded by the Centre for Applied Archaeology (University College London), Brighton & Hove City Council and Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society in 2014. It was given £99,300 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a year long research project. On 25 August 2014, the Whitehawk Dig took place. Archaeologist Owen O’Donnell said "This area is one of the most important in Britain and maybe even Europe in terms of the Neolithic times." In addition to the dig, objects previously retrieved in the 1930s were photographed and repacked.
In 2018, the reconstructed face of the woman found in the 1930s excavations was shown at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery as part of a broader historical exhibition on the past inhabitants of Brighton. The 'Whitehawk Woman' was born in Wales and died in Brighton, possibly whilst giving birth. The woman was 1.45 metres tall (short even for a neolithic person).
In popular culture
- 'Whitehawk Hill' was a film installation made by Catlin Easterby, Simon Pascoe Anna Lucas and abandofbrothers. It was shown at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery from March 8 until April 10 2016.
- Russell, Miles (2002), Prehistoric Sussex, Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-1964-1
- "About Whitehawk Camp". Centre for Applied Archaeology. UCL. 25 July 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- "Pastscape - Detailed Result: WHITEHAWK CAMP CAUSEWAYED ENCLOSURE". www.pastscape.org.uk. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Bangs, David. Whitehawk Hill: Where the turf meets the surf.
- "Whitehawk Camp". www.brighton-hove.gov.uk. Brighton & Hove City Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
- Kenneth J. McNamara, The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil, University of Chicago Press
- M.V. Seton-Williams (1988) The road to El-Aguzein, Kegan Paul International, p.32
- Whitehawk Camp Brighton & Hove Council
- "Image Details - 28537". Brighton Museums. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- "Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project". Centre for Applied Archaeology. UCL. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Davies, Gareth (25 August 2014). "Digging up city's Neolithic past". The Argus. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Seymour, Ellie (2018). Secret Brighton (Edition 01 ed.). p. 157. ISBN 9782361952648.
- Romey, Kristin (24 January 2019). "These facial reconstructions reveal 40,000 years of English ancestry". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Geggel, Laura (2019). "Photos: See the Ancient Faces of a Man-Bun Wearing Bloke and a Neanderthal Woman". livescience. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Culture24 Reporter (9 February 2016). "A connection with prehistory: Artists create film about one of UK's first Neolithic ritual monuments | Culture24". Culture24. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- E. C. Curwen. (1934) 'Excavations at Whitehawk Camp, Brighton 1932-3' Antiquaries Journal, Volume 14, pp. 99-113.
- E. C. Curwen. (1936) 'Excavations at Whitehawk Camp, Brighton 1935' Sussex Archaeological Collections, Volume 77, pp. 137-70.
- Frances Healy, Alex Bayliss and Alasdair Whittle. (2011) 'Whitehawk Camp.' In A. Whittle, F. Healy and A. Bayliss (with contributions) Gathering Time, Dating the Early Neolithic Enclosures of Southern Britain and Ireland, Volume 1, Oxbow Books, pp. 208-226.
- Orange, H., Maxted, A., Sygrave, J. and Richardson, D. (2015) Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project; A Report from the Archives, in Archaeology International, 18, pp. 51-55.
- Orange, H., Sygrave, J. and Maxted, A. (2015) An Evaluation Report to the Heritage Lottery Fund on the outcomes of the Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project. ASE Project No: P106. Report No 2015202.
- Russel, M. (1991) An Archaeological Assessment Conducted at Whitehawk
- R. P. Ross Williamson. (1930) 'Excavations in Whitehawk Neolithic camp, near Brighton' Sussex Archaeological Collections, Volume 71, pp. 56-96.