Places of Interest nearby
Number of texts: 4
Local folklore explains the Devil’s Dyke as the work of the devil. The legend holds that the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the many churches in the Weald of Sussex. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow, making the devil believe that the morning was fast approaching. The devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished. The last shovel of earth he threw over his shoulder fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Wight. A further variant has it that the Devil’s digging was terminated by him stubbing his toe on a large rock which he kicked in anger over the hills towards the sea, then abandoning his diabolic plans of Weald destruction due to the injuries sustained. The rock landed in the area now known, consequently, as Goldstone valley in Hove. The Goldstone acquired its name from the hints of gold in its makeup. The enormous and mysterious rock now lies in Hove Park in Goldstone Valley, near where it was first discovered. It can be seen at the Old Shoreham Road end of the park and is considered to have been possibly an object of Druid worship. Another story holds that rather than digging to flood Sussex, he was simply in a huge goat-like form, intending to crush the surrounding area. He smelt the tang of salt water in the wind, and fearing his coat would get damp (for he is vain to the point of sin), he fled leaving nothing but a hoof-print, now known as Devil’s Dyke.
There is a great myth how the Devil’s Dyke was created. But there is also a scientific one. The Dyke is formed in rocks of the Chalk Group which originated as marine sediments during the Cretaceous period. The 300-foot-deep valley was carved by tremendous amounts of water running off the Downs during the last Ice Age when large amounts of snow thawed and the frozen chalk prevented any further absorption; erosion was aided by the freeze-thaw cycle and the valley was deepened by the ‘sludging’ of the saturated chalk. The Devil’s Dyke V-shaped dry valley is the result of solifluction and river erosion. More than fourteen thousand years ago, the area experienced an intensely cold climate (but not glacial conditions). Snowfields capped the South Downs. Permafrost conditions meant that the chalk was permanently frozen. In summer, the snowfields melted and saturated the top layer of soil, because the water could not permeate the frozen chalk underneath. Waterlogged material situated above the permafrost slid down the gradient, removing material by friction, exposing deeper layers of frozen chalk. When the Ice Age ended, the snowfields covering the South Downs melted, and rivers formed across Sussex. The Devil’s Dyke valley was completed by one such river.
Linked themes: Geology
Did you know that a cycling highway was built here in Devil’s Dyke. Watch the video about Devil’s Dyke and learn all about it an much more…
Linked characteristics: Did you know...
Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way in southern England, near Brighton and Hove. Devil’s Dyke was a major local tourist attraction in the late 19th and early 20th century.