The structure of the Wealden anticline can be seen from many viewpoints along the
South Downs. The slope of the hills to the south reflect the surface of the beds
as they gently arch up and over towards the central Weald before descending again
to form the North Downs. The centre of the Weald has been deeply eroded as the uplift
was taking place. If not, the hills may have reached a height of 900 metres (3000
It may be difficult to believe how much erosion has taken place but you have to remember
that we are talking about millions of years. Also, in more recent geological time,
the severe climatic fluctuations of the Quaternary (the ‘ice age’) would have accelerated
the rate of erosion.
Evidence of instability introduced by rapid erosion during the ‘ice ages’ is seen
at places like Older Hill, where much of the hillside is a massive landslip. The
landscape is still slowly readjusting itself to new conditions.
Occasionally, nature ignores the more recent attempts of mankind to make its mark
on the landscape. The Chichester floods in 1993 and 2000 resulted from the River
Lavant taking to its former route to the sea via Pagham Harbour. The photograph is
of the A27, just east of Chichester. The route that the River Lavant currently follows
to Chichester Harbour is undoubtedly a Roman or medieval diversion to take water
to the city and waste from it.