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DEVILS DYKE

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A map of 1778-83 shows that the hillfort was known as Poor Man's Walls; the present name derives from the coombe to the east. Excavations have been small-scale and inconclusive: Neolithic flints and a human inhumation have been found. The hillfort may have been begun in the early Iron Age on the highest ground as a smaller enclosure, whose NE end is represented by a ploughed down rampart, and subsequently expanded to take in the entire promontory in the later Iron Age. However, the degraded earthwork may be a cross-ridge dyke whose relationship to the eventual hillfort is incidental. Similarly, the main cross-ridge rampart that forms the SW end of the hillfort could be an earlier cross-ridge dyke eventually incorporated into the circuit. The SW rampart appears to deflect around a broad platform, perhaps the site of a windmill or similar, which may represent the modified remains of a Bronze Age round barrow. Alternatively, this may be the site of a blocked entrance. The more evident entrance, which is shown on the 18th-century map and is used by the present road, appears to relate to the approach from the head of Devil's Dyke Coombe. Celtic fields occupy the slope to the north-east of the hillfort and appear to underlie the NE rampart, possibly extending through much of the interior (TQ 21 SE 103). Complex earthworks (TQ 21 SE 104) are visible in the pasture outside the main SW cross-ridge rampart; these certainly include at least three barrows, possible Romano-British settlement (the general area of the 'Celtic village' dug by Burstow and Wilson in the 1930s) and golf course earthworks. The hillfort became the site of an 'adventure park' in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, centred on the hotel of around 1817 (see TQ 21 SE 105). A proving ground (bomb testing site) was constructed at the Dyke in 1918. During the Second World War, it became a 'defended locality' (TQ 21 SE 100), incorporating a building probably from the First World War (see TQ 21 SE 99).

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