My most favorite place to visit in Worthing is the Highdown Hill and Southdown National Park. Two weeks into my stay here and I find myself walking up the hill at least three times a week for obvious reasons.
Highdown Hill is a small hill 226 feet high that stands just north of Ferring.It overlooks Littlehampton, Angmering, Ferring and Worthing .
The plaque at the entrance tells you that, when you walk up the hill, you will be following the footsteps of pre- historic traders, Romans, Saxons, shepherds, farmers, jockeys, archaeologists, plant hunters and soldiers.
The Hill itself was an Iron- Age Fort and a Saxon cemetery.
The earliest permanent settlement here was an enclosure dating back to 1000BC. Around 600BV there used to be a hill fort consisting of an earthwork with a rampart and a ditch. This was used subsequently as an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery from AD 450. All the objects excavated is now displayed in Worthing Museum.
This landscape is chalk grasslands that were formed by ancient sea algae called cocoliths. Over millions of years they were transformed into calcium carbonate forming limestone chalk. There is still a chalk pit here as seen in the below picture.
The most distinguishing feature of the hill is a copse of trees at the summit, that can be seen from anywhere in Worthing, Cissbury, Angmering and Lancing.
Southdown National Park encircles the Hill. There are 40 different plant species growing here . Towards the far-end, I saw something that resembled the part of a mill, though I am not sure if it is connected to John Oliver, the famous miller whose tomb, you can find here.
There is another interesting story that is merged in the history of this hill. The Miller’s Tale.
In 18th century, a miller John Oliver built his tomb on Highdown Hill 27 years before his death in 1793. He is reputed to have stored contraband gained from illegal activities in his tomb. It is said that he set the sails of his wind mill in a particular angle as a signal to smugglers about the absence of customs officials.
John Olliver was famed as an eccentric and extraordinary individual. The story says that his coffin was painted white and was drawn to his tomb by 8 ladies dressed in white robes. Whatever people speak about his craziness, he is believed to have been a benefactor of poor in the neighborhood.
Highdown Hill is a beautiful place to be whether to explore the woods, to sit on the wooden benches with a book, or to lie on the meadow to watch the shape- shifting clouds or to just lean back on the trunk of a tree and dream away.
The information for the blog is taken from the plaques found on the Hill.