Just above the Wiston Estate in between Washington and Steyning in West Sussex is a distinctive clump of trees that can be seen for many miles. The trees were planted in about 1760 by Charles Goring from Wiston. He was 16 at the time and had to carry water up the Downs to nurture them (well either he did this or perhaps his butler). Many of the trees were lost in the Great Storm of 1987 but have since been replanted. Nearby, there is also the Chanctonbury Dew Pond, a Site of Special Scientific Interest constructed in about 1870 and a popular spot for Instagrammers and photographers.
Chanctonbury Ring was a hill fort thought to date to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. Later it was occupied by the Romans and there were two Roman-British temples here.
Legends about Chanctonbury Ring abound. One story goes that if you run around the clump of trees seven times anti-clockwise you can summon up the Devil, whilst other legends have it that the ring can increase fertility in women who sleep underneath the trees for one night. Whatever legends may or may not be true, it is a truly charismatic spot, with spellbinding views and an air of mystic and spiritualism about it, well worth a visit at sunrise, sunset, and any time in between. And don’t forget to look out for the rather gorgeous Highland cattle.
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