A timeline for High Wood

We discussed the chronology of the area one day at Highwood Mill and it makes sense to archive this material with the stone. The landscape around is a palimpsest, like a manuscript on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing; something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its past.

145 million years ago – the end of the Jurassic period – when our Portland stone was laid down – a little earlier than the softer Sussex chalk.

100 million years ago – sea levels 250m higher – highest of South Downs peaks would have been  little islands in the sea; Cissbury Ring underwater (warmer seas, less ice, more water in oceans)

60 million years ago – chalk formation from sea muds complete

130,000BC – last time the sea level was as low as today

20,000 BC – LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM water levels 130 metres lower as a result of evaporation and transfer into the Laurentian Ice sheet

a time of the land bridge between East Anglian and the Netherlands/Germany “Doggerland” (and what is now Dogger Bank on the shipping forecast)

14,000 BC – start of rebound; Britain becomes an island again as waters rise

up to 10,000 BC PALEOLITHIC which lasted from about 2.6 million to about 10,500 years ago. Because of the simple, large tools used, this era is also called the Stone Age. Water level higher – we had raised beach up to Slindon/Boxgrove on the Downs at that time.

6000BC MESOLITHIC occupation – the end of the stone age – smaller lithic tools and weapons – microliths

occupation shown by presence of worked (or remains of) flint clusters – Wickhurst area


1. occupation show by post hole remains and circular walls of hut circles (“dispersed farmsteads”)

2. circular hedge line around the base of High Wood COULD date from this time – a wealden oval enclosure started out as simple hedged bank and ditch 

3. pollen analysis of remains

4. funereal remains/pots

LATE IRON AGE  – to 25 AD- ish


100-200 AD Roman IRON The Wealden geology of sands and clays yielded the iron ore, as well as the stone and brick to build the furnaces; the woodland provided the charcoal fuel; and the numerous small streams and valleys ensured water power for the bellows and hammers of the forges and furnaces. In the first two centuries of the Roman occupation the Weald was the main iron-producing region in Britain.

1st-4th Century ROMANO-BRITISH – could drove roads date back this far? No evidence.

8th Century – Wic hurst as a settlement linked to Sullington parish – grazing land linked by drove roads

10th Century NNE-SSW orientated fields formalised, based around drove roads connecting the coast with the damped lands of the Weald

“early MEDIEVAL” 750 -1175

11th Century – (Old) Wickhurst Lane in use

13th Century –  Stammerham Farm – to the north of the railway

14th Century – Farthings (formerly Farthingbridge) Farm

15th Century – Parthings Farm land where Highwood Village sites

Tudor and early-Stuart times – the Weald was again the main iron-producing region in Britain

“late medieval” 1175-1550

1500s FULLING MILL – for mechanical cleaning of simple cloth with Fullers Earth

identification from presence of pond and constriction; channel sediments in sectional cut ditches

ridge and furrow remains

1724 Budgens Map of Sussex – shows the curved Five Oaks-Farthings Hill road respecting former boundary

1760s HILLS PLACE – Capability Brown landscape

1820 – landscape lost and back to farmland

1840s TITHE MAPPING – gives field names which reference earlier stages of history

1848 – railway and Horsham station initially connection from Three Bridges

1850 – Broadbridge Mill – flour production

1861 – rail connection to Shoreham

1862 – Horsham rail connections to Dorking, Leatherhead and London Victoria

1865 – rail connection to Guildford

1896 Warnham Brickworks, which before 1909 moved east of the railway; houses for brickworkers were built near the station by 1896, and by 1909 there was a row of ten. The Warnham brickworks too were much enlarged in the 20th century. In 1903 the Sussex Brick & Estates Co. was formed to take over the Warnham brickworks, and in 1907 it took over the Southwater firm as well.

1902 – Christs Hospital School – occupying much of the fromer Stammerham

1930s – memories of new Farthings farmer daughter – stock brought by train from Devon

1940s – River Arun much higher as weir/waterfall at base of High Wood to allow leat for the Broadbridge Mill


postwar, Arun water level lower as weir in disrepair and mill not in use

1950s A24 road bisects landscape

1962 the Warnham brickworks, output was the largest in south-east England, employed c. 300 men

into 2010s development starts  – allowed the archaeological investigation of Wickhurst Green as well as the eastern side of the A24

2019 Highwood Village community occupation begins – with the historic oaks through the Village and the Fulling Mill site on the other bank signifying the oval enclosure boundary that may date back 2500 years. Our sculpture, Fluvius, nods to the occupation of the Wic hurst, and all the sculptors’ presence amidst both the historical and the birdlife of the Arun flowing tight around the base of High Wood.

One thought on “A timeline for High Wood

  1. Really interesting Jon and complements your sculpture site well – thank you. How about one for our village – a lot would overlap and we could liaise if necessary about 1840 onward?!


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