The Trundle - History and Facts | History Hit

The Trundle

The Trundle is a hillfort in the South Downs first used between 4400 and 4200 BC.

Image Credit: Kyle Hoekstra

About The Trundle

The Trundle is an ancient hillfort in West Sussex which rewards visitors with a superb perspective of the coast as well as 360-degree views over the South Downs.

The Trundle history

The first indication of people using the Trundle is between 4400 and 4200 BC, when the landscape of the Weald and South Downs was settled by people transitioning from seasonal hunting and gathering towards a more intensive working of the land.

A large cleared area with commanding views of the wooded landscape was first established at the Trundle, the first of the known causewayed enclosures to be built in the South Downs. The Trundle may have been occupied during the Bronze Age, but certainly during the Iron Age preceding Roman occupation it would have assumed an important economic and political role.

Hillforts were used by communities to store resources, carry out specialist activities such as metalworking and for the social elite to project power. The Trundle was abandoned in the late Iron Age in favour of settlements on the coastal plain to the south.

There are a number of earthworks and monuments around the Trundle, including burial barrows, mines, dykes and ditches. In North Bersted, 10 kilometres away, the grave of the most elaborately equipped Iron Age Warrior in England was located in 2008. The “Mystery Warrior” and his grave goods are on permanent display at Chichester’s Novium Museum.

The hill the Trundle summits is St. Roche’s Hill. This name derives from a chapel built within the ramparts in the 14th century dedicated to Saint Roche, a Montpellier-born survivor of the Black Death. Travellers would ascend the hill, then located on the main road from London to Chichester, to visit the chapel.

The Trundle today

Of the ancient settlements and historic sites embraced by the chalky swells of the Sussex Downs, the Trundle offers some of the most impressive views. From the top of the Trundle, visitors can gaze south towards Chichester harbour where it opens into the Solent, and beyond to the Isle of Wight.

Chichester Cathedral, Selsey Bill and Pagham Harbour can also be seen from the Trundle’s southern side. There are masts on the hill, legacies of two radio stations which were built during World War Two.

Getting to the Trundle

The Trundle is located in the South Downs north of the county town of Chichester, close to Goodwood race course. It can be accessed by good paths from local villages which lie on Stagecoach’s bus route 60 between Chichester and Midhurst. The Trundle is one mile south of Singleton, location of the Weald & Downland Living Museum and West Dean Gardens.

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