Hassocks Suspected Roman Settlement
Hassocks W. Sussex, a 19th cent. settlement named from a field called Hassocks, from OE hassuc ‘clump of coarse grass’.” (Mills)
A substantial Roman settlement has been suspected for some time near Hassocks in West Sussex. This is based solely on the discovery of a large Roman cemetery in the area, coupled with the fact that two Roman roads intersected here. Oddly enough, despite the presence of a Roman cemetery and road junction, no evidence of any associated civil settlement has yet been found. For a description of this suspected Roman settlement see the Victoria County History – Sussex (Vol. III, p. 57.)
Other Roman Sites in the Area
There is a known Roman villa and associated tile-kiln nearby at Hurstpierpoint (TQ2815), and there is evidence of substantial Roman building at Clayton (TQ3013). These sites have produced no evidence that either proves or disproves the existence of a settlement at Hassocks during Roman times.
The Local Road System
The road north leads through the iron-rich hills in the Weald of Sussex and crosses the North Downs Way just to the west of Titsey, on its way to London. The road west from Noviomagvs via Hardham, continues east from Hassocks for some eight miles before ending abruptly at the River Ouse just north of Llewes. It is possible that this road continued over the river as an unmetalled track, all the way to the Saxon Shore Fort at Anderitvm in Pevensey Bay, though this late-Roman fortification was almost definitely supplied by sea.
Concerning the suspected road to Pevensey Castle, there is an alignment of minor roads which bears some investigation here; near the suspicious priory in Upper Dicker, nestled in a bend of the Cuckmere River just west of Hailsham (see OS Landranger Map #199, Eastbourne & Hastings). The builders of the early Saxon priories often robbed the bulk of their construction material from the metalling of Roman roads, if any were available nearby.
References for Hassocks
- Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001);
- Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford 1998).
Roman Roads near Hassocks
Possible road: E (24) to Anderitvm (Pevensey, East Sussex) S (7) to Brighton (nr. Brighton & Hove, Sussex) W (17) to Hardham (West Sussex) N (44) to Londinivm Possible Road: E (32) to Hastings (East Sussex)