Happy Summer Solstice! While thousands may have gathered at Stonehenge today we know from experience that very few would have been up at the Whitehawk Causewayed Enclosure today to see the sunrise. That’s a shame because for most of the year you get some pretty amazing views of the horizon and, this time of year, a sunrise
to the north east. But did the Neolithic people who used the hill set up the monument in any way to mark the movement of the sun?
The late stone age circles at Whitehawk are much older than even the earliest phases of Stonehenge and proving an astronomical alignment would be significant. But we also imagine it would be pretty hard to demonstrate.
As you can see in this reconstruction, the banks, ditches, causeways and post holes in the monument would pretty much give you an opportunity to claim any number of calendrical or astronomical alignments and without total excavation and understanding the way the site grew over time in detail you’d have to be a very brave or foolish archaeologist to make the claim.
But that’s not to say marking the passing of the seasons was unimportant and hopefully in the future our research might give indications of what time of year the site was used by other means such as careful study of the animal bones. For now its true to say that the hill offers a great view of dawn over the South Downs and, in mid-winter, of the sun rising from the sea.
This solstice weekend come and meet us and learn more about our project investigating Brighton’s ancient stone age circles at the Sussex Festival of Nature.
Tuesday 27th May the first group from BHAS started working on the finds from Whitehawk Hill. They re-packed artefacts that had been handled before, and commenced scanning in artefacts details, drawings and other newspaper cuttings from the 1920’s and 1930’s. It has proved such a popular activity that Andy from the museum has had to create a rota for those involved. There are some great pictures on the Whitehawk Hill website.