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Caring for historic landscapes

Caring for historic landscapes

The South Downs has seen a steady ebb and flow of population and landscape use over the last 6000 years. 

You can discover remnants of such use at the Iron Age hill forts of Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring, Old Winchester Hill, Bignor Roman Villa and Lewes Priory, but there are also hundreds of scheduled monuments and thousands of undesignated heritage assets across the South Downs. 

A recent survey by English Heritage of the archaeology of the National Park within Hampshire revealed a rich and complex landscape of prehistoric, Roman and medieval field systems. There remains more to be discovered, and our Secrets of the High Woods project is doing just that in the densely wooded landscape north of Chichester and within the Low Weald. link to Secrets of High Woods

As the most populated National Park, the built historic environment of the South Downs is particularly important. There are over 5,000 listed buildings and 166 Conservation Areas within the South Downs National Park, many of which lie in the historically significant market towns of Lewes, Petworth, Midhurst and Petersfield, as well as the dozens of historic villages that lie at the foot of the chalk scarp. The iconic use of flint can be seen in buildings from Beachy Head to Winchester. 

The South Downs is also a landscape of great estates, country houses and designed parkland, notably Petworth House, Parham, Uppark, Firle, Stansted, Glynde, West Dean and Hinton Ampner.

But our historic places are threatened because of a shortage of skilled workers to maintain them, changes in land management, development pressures and inappropriate changes to provide energy efficiency in historic buildings. 

We are working with partners across the National Park to ensure that our wonderful historic places survive for future generations.


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."