The disused chalk pit is properly known as Hill Barn Pit (or to geologists as Gaster’s Pit 2), is an important geological feature on the chalk downs.
The reason for this is because the exposed chalk reveals a deposit layer of what is known as Tarrant chalk.
This has provided opportunity for recovery of important fossils. The British Museum of Natural History holds an example of a Bourgueticrinus cf. fritillus, a Crinoid or Sea Lily, a primitive animal which lived on the ocean floor. Also found in scientific studies carried out in the early 1900’s a species of Bryozoa named Pelmatopora lancingensis.
This description is taken from the 1805 Lancing enclosure award :
‘…a public chalk pit for the use of the all proprietors and occupiers of lands and heriditaments in the Parish of Lancing to be by them expended or used for building and repairing of buildings and the manuring of lands in the said parish’.
It was closed early in the 20 century after a person was killed while removing chalk and the practise was made illegal.
The site now is distinctly different from the area around ‘The Clump’ due to it’s sheltered position.
At the east end a steep chalk face is now partly covered in vegetation apart from a small area that remains exposed, partly due to the activities of children who enjoy climbing up and down it.
The vegetation here is a mixture of Elder, Hawthorn, Sycamore trees and Ivy which festoons many of the trees.
In one area close to the base of the steepest part of the pit is a large group of Buddleia davidii shrubs, providing a nectar supply for butterflies and other insects.
The open grass space is largely covered with Tor Grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) but mixed with other species of meadow grasses such as Sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina) and Upright brome (Bromus erectus).
There are patches of Small Scabious, Harebell. Greater and Common Knapweed. In two small areas is a patch of short turf on thin soil where plants such as Milkwort, Squinancywort, Bird’s-foot trefoil, Kidney vetch and Eyebright prefer to grow.
The Round-headed Rampion(Phyteuma tenerum), the county flower of Sussex, occurs in small numbers.
Reptiles such as Adders and sometimes Lizards can occasionally be spotted in a sunlit niche
Spiders This is a known location for the colourful Wasp Spider. (Argiope bruennichi). From around September careful observation may reveal a female among the clumps of Tor Grass