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BLACKPATCH

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Flint mining complex dated to the earlier Neolithic but with considerable evidence for later activity. Excavations undertaken between 1922 and 1930 by John Pull. The surface earthworks were partly bulldozed in the early 1950s. The site was surveyed by RCHME in 1995 as part of the Industry and Enclosure in the Neolithic Project. In addition, aerial photographs pre-dating and post-dating the bulldozing episode were examined in order to discover the full extent of the mining area. See the archive report for full details and a detailed site bibliography. John Pull, who discovered the site in 1922 and excavated there until 1930, depicted the mined area as covering circa 2.5 hectares, although his surviving site plans are quite sketchy, lacking detail. Today, only 12 possible shafts can be identified on the ground. Previous estimates by Pull and the Ordnance Survey suggest anything up to 100 may have existed there. They survive as slight depressions up to 0.25 metres deep. Some shallow spoil heaps can also be discerned, as well as one mound which may represent the remains of Pull's Barrow 3 (TQ 00 NE 43). Pull excavated 8 shafts and 4 "working floors". His finds, along with a single radiocarbon date obtained in the early 1970s from one of his finds, suggest that, as with other South Downs flint mines, the main phase of mining was probably in the early to middle 4th millennium BC. How early mining began and how long after, say, 3500 BC it continued is impossible to say at present. The evidence from the working floors and "barrows" suggests that considerable activity continued until the Early Bronze Age. There are hints that this may have included mining, but at present, re-use of mining spoil and use of the site as a focus for ceremonial and funerary activity seems the most likely explanation.

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