The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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is Cissbury, the most interesting of Sussex camps. It was excavated by Pitt Rivers, and dates from early Neolithic times. Its form is oval more or less, its circuit is about a mile and a quarter, and its area some sixty acres. The fosse and agger are well preserved, and the greatest height from the bottom of the former to the top of the latter measured on the slope is over 50 feet. It is partly thrown up over yet older circular pits made in digging flints. Rabbits are doing enormous harm to it, but they probably know no better, which is more than can be said for members of the human race who carve their insignificant names on the smooth turf.
From the ramparts one gets a glorious view over fold upon fold of downland, furrowed by the Adur valley to the east; to the north is Chanctonbury Ring, some three miles off, the maritime plain thickset with towns and villages to the south, and over it the waters of the Channel. The life of the men who lived here once, when perhaps Cissbury was the Sheffield of the South, has been painted in words by T. Rice Holmes. " Roaming over sand or moor or upland, looking for the tools that those old workers wrought, in the midst of the monuments that their hands up-reared. Not the outward life alone comes back to us—the miner with lamp and pick creeping down the shaft; the cutler toiling amid a waste of flints; herdsmen following cattle on the downs; girls milking at sundown; lithe swarthy hunters return­ing from the chase ; fowlers in their canoes gliding over the meres; serfs hauling blocks up the hillside to build the chambers in yonder barrow; the funeral feast; the weird, sepulchral rites; the bloody strife for the means of subsistence between
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