Saturday, 6 March 2010

Harting Down to Cocking, West Sussex

Corylus avellana in flower

Spring was herald today on the South Downs Way, by the presence of blue-sky song-flight skylark Alauda arvensis and flowering hazel Corylus avellana. A flock of 40+ yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella worked the stubble fields and tree line to the west of Harting Down.

The Devil's Jumps August 2007

The Devil's Jumps on Phillis Down are a series of Bronze Age barrows (tumuli) constructed between 2000 BC - 800 BC They are aligned with the setting sun on midsummers day. Escavated in 1853 two of the barrows were found to contain cremated bones.

Protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archeaological Areas Act 1979 the barrows are managed by the Murray Downland Trust: 

The Devil's Jumps March 2010

The current management plan has removed both the encroaching tree and scrubline as well as cutting down the aged hawthorn Cratageous monogyna trees which grew on the tumuli themselves.

Whilst Bronze Age constructions were originally built within open landscapes to enhance both their profile and significance; I was personally disappointed to see the removal of the hawthorn on the tumuli as they had provided me with both shelter and a metaphor for life out of death (rebirth) over the many years of walking this section of the South Downs Way.

Folklore regarding The Devil's Jumps can be found under discussion at:

Incidental birding highlights included 2 x red kite Milvus milvus, 1 x raven Corvus corax, 3 x buzzard Buteo buteo and a flock of circa 100 fieldfare Turdus pilaris.

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