Belle Tout

Near Eastbourne
East Sussex
England, United Kingdom.


The Belle Tout earthworks sit upon a chalk plateau which rises to a maximum height of 80m. The site overlooks the English Channel some 3km West of Beachy Head and 2km south of East Dean in the parish of East Dean and Friston, Wealden District, East Sussex.


The chalk downland coast between Eastbourne and Brighton is the last remaining undeveloped chalk cliff coastline in the south-east of England. Three earthwork enclosures, all now seriously affected by coastal erosion, have been recorded from Belle Tout Hill. Only two survive today. The largest earthwork which today covers an area in excess of 20 hectares, may originally have enclosed the entire headland. The earthwork consists of a earth bank surrounded by an continuous pit-linked ditch. The smaller earthwork lies at the very edge of the cliff line. The smaller earthwork and the now lost earthwork have been interpreted as Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age agricultural settlement enclosures. A series of round barrows, presumably of  Bronze Age date, are also recorded from the headland.


The earthworks recorded from Belle Tout, though archaeologically examined on a number of occasions, remain poorly understood and largely undated. The site, which is at present eroding into the sea at a rate of around 0.5m a year, represents an area of considerable archaeological potential, a study of which is considered all the more urgent due to the constant pressures of coastal erosion.


Belle Tout lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse and famous British landmark located at Beachy Head, East Sussex. It has been called "Britain's most famous inhabited lighthouse" because of its striking location and use in film and television. In 1999, the Grade II listed building was famously moved in one piece to prevent it from succumbing to coastal erosion.

Bounemouth University Belle Tout Neolithic & Beaker Enclosures - website

The Belle Tout Lighthouse - website