The history of Black Down
Flints, ancient tracks across the land and so much more is evidence of Black Down’s past. Find out about the treasures uncovered in this fantastic landscape.
Uncovering Black Down's history
We've been working in collaboration with the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters and University College London, to uncover this hidden past through traditional archaeological field survey, documentary research and the use of specialist LiDAR data (Light Detection and Ranging). National Trust archaeologist Tom Dommett produced the video below exploring the history of Black Down.
There's no naturally occurring flint on Black Down, but it has long been known as a source of prehistoric flint artefacts. Collected over the last 100 years, through chance finds and antiquarian excavation, the Haslemere Educational Museum now has a collection of over 2,000 flint tools, ranging from axes and mace heads to arrowheads for hunting, blades for butchery, and scrapers for preparing animal hides.
Black Down was clearly being used by hunter-gatherer communities over a long period, perhaps because it offered a good vantage point to observe game and intercept them as herd animals moved up the watercourses in the nearby valleys.
The historic trackways which criss-cross Black Down bear testament to the fact that this was a busy landscape. Over 40 historic routes have been identified, many from the medieval period.
These range from droveways for moving stock, to woodsmen’s tracks and paths for turf cutters or transporting stone.
Tracks lead up to the common from all of the surrounding areas. Some of the tracks provide evidence for the numerous small farmsteads surrounding the common, many of which now remain only as low stone footings and platforms.
With plenty to see and do on a visit, Black Down, the highest point in the South Downs National Park, is a great place to walk, run, cycle and celebrate the great outdoors.
We've released a pair of beavers into a sheltered valley in the South Downs as part of our efforts to restore nature by creating a wildlife-rich wetland landscape.