The famous Bronze Age burial mounds known as the Devil’s Jumps will be open to the public this Saturday, June 18.
Why not come along and imagine yourself back 3,500 years with your ancestors? Experts from the county archaeological team will be there to guide you around and explain how these ancient tumuli were built, and why.
I shall also be there to tell you about the wild flowers and butterflies together with top European bee and wasp expert Mike Edwards from Midhurst. Host for the day is The Murray Downland Trust who manage the nature reserve as well as others along the South Downs such as Heyshott Downs and Buriton Down.
We want to show you how precious these dwindling areas of natural downland are and how they are managed.
We are also hoping for help in this management and maybe help to monitor the plants and insects in the long term, so that we know we are getting the management right.
However you see it, you will be welcome. The Devil’s Jumps shown in the picture at their moment of construction were the tombs of unknown chieftains who owned this land and farmed it intensively growing barley and keeping pigs, sheep, and cattle.
What is today a vast forest covering much of the West Dean Estate was in those days cleared arable and cattle ranches and the field boundaries these Bronze Age farmers worked are all still visible today.
These were sophisticated people with the ability to forge bronze by mixing tin with copper. Some of their gold inlay ornaments are occasionally found.
Usually these tumuli are in pairs or singles. It is very unusual to find them representing a dynasty in this way. One of them here is the tallest tumulus in Sussex, measuring 16ft in height. It is indeed a noble edifice.
Thirty five years ago the cemetery was cleared of trees and bushes by the Society of Sussex Downsmen led by Geoffrey Stallibrass from Harting.
Today clearance is at last complete and what you will see is a downland meadow with all seven tumuli visible. It makes a truly remarkable sight on the top of the hills.
If you want to come along meet any time between 1.30pm and 5pm on this Saturday, June 18, at the Royal Oak pub, Hooksway, SU815163 on the Chichester to Harting road.
If you’re in need of a walk first it is a mile uphill to the Devil’s Jumps or Landrovers will provide a ferry service to and fro. Each party of ten to 15 people will be taken on a half hour guided walk and then there will be light refreshments provided back at the Royal Oak.
If it is tipping down cats and dogs we may have to cancel in which case check in the morning that all is clear with David Petche on 01730 269905.
Hope to see you all there then.