Mystery Photos of Brighton and Hove

Roedean Mystery Circles

By Peter Groves

Roedean’s strange circles

I drive past Roedean every day on my way to and from work.  It was only recently that I noticed the strange circles in the field between Roedean golf course and school.  In June I stopped early one morning to examine and photograph them.  Much to my annoyance, although by eye the circles are easily seen, they were barely distinguishable on the photos; probably due to the very long grass and shallow photographic angle.

Two possibilities

I think there are two possible reasons for the strange circles.  Firstly, under examination using Google, and compared to the adjacent golf course, they do look like old golf bunkers. Did Roedean miniature golf course once cover a wider area, including this field?  Are the strange circles, what’s remaining of old golf bunkers?  More recently the grass has been cut, and the circles became even more apparent.  So I stopped again and took more photos; although not perfect, the circles can now be seen!  On close examination I now believe they are more likely to be the remains of WWII bomb craters, but I can’t be sure. Who knows the answer? 

Photo:Roedean mystery circles

Roedean mystery circles

Photo by Peter Groves

Arial view of the field: Google Earth

This page was added on 23/09/2012.
Comments about this page

Probably evidence of the girls at Roedean School trying to dig themselves out to freedom, a la Ronald Searle's St Trinians; or more likely, giant moles on the rampage! Actually, it looks very much like an old golf-course, but that's rather boring.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (23/09/2012)

It was a Mini Golf Course. I am sure I remember it as a kid.

By Andy Mountford (24/09/2012)

In the 1960s there used to be a small 9 hole pitch and putt golf course in that area, they must be the small bunkers that are now overgrown.

By Michael Brittain (24/09/2012)

When I was a kid in the fifties this was part of a small golf course.

By Mick Peirson (24/09/2012)

Yes, I'm afraid it was an old 9 hole miniature golf course, Peter. I played on it many times in the 1960s.

By Alan Hobden (24/09/2012)

Some time ago Chris McBrien put MyB&H readers on to some aerial photos of Sussex taken by the RAF in 1946 which are held at Sussex University. The one for this area can be found at; sussex.ac.uk/geography/researchprojects/sussexairphotos//1940/19-5005.jpg From these it does look as if these were old bunkers for a golf course or large putting green as the pattern is too regular for bomb craters and my 1950s Brighton Plan does show this whole area to have been a Miniature Golf Course. On these photos you can also see the bomb craters on the Downs which we used to play in after the War and these are much larger. They were mostly from bombs which missed the nearby gas works although one of these did penetrate a gas holder but didn't explode. Roedean School was used as a Naval base during the War under the name HMS Vernon so the Luftwaffe might well have been aiming at that or the nearby Marine Gate.

By Tim Sargeant (24/09/2012)

All who said that they played there in the 50s and 60s are mistaken, the area of the Mystery Circles is to the north-east of the Roedean Pitch and Putt, please look on the fascinating 1946 photo that Tim has identified. This shows the Pitch and Putt to the south-west, but the Mystery Circles north-east of the diagonal road, and with no Pitch and Putt in 1946. As a golfer, I still think they are bomb craters, for example when you examine the one in my photo at close proximity it is like a saucer, very regular and round, unlike golf bunkers which are very irregular. Final point, apart from these, who knows where bomb craters can still be found in Brighton and Hove today?

By Peter Groves (24/09/2012)

Sorry, you could all be correct if there were 2 Pitch and Putt courses in that area at one time? To the south of the diagonal road (and still existing today) and to the north, but constructed after 1946 and then demolished at some stage?

By Peter Groves (24/09/2012)

Hi Peter. The larger 18 hole miniature golf course was to the left (west) of the diagonal road (Roedean Road), whilst the smaller 9 hole pitch and putt type course I am referring to was to the right (east). There was a hut at the lower end of the course where you paid your money and hired your clubs. It was where the small car park is in your second photo above. The first green was circled by a fairly high bank - probably to encourage a good score at the first hole! This circular bank can still be seen in your second photo. It is the most southerly, round indent, nearest the track leading from Roedean Road to the car park. I only moved to Brighton in 1959, but it was already there then.

By Alan Hobden (25/09/2012)

Does anyone know "what on earth" is going on at the Roedean Mystery Circles? Within the last few days, turf has been taken up on a 30 x 30 metre square section, exactly where the mystery circles are! It looks like an archaeological excavation; are they looking for the golf greens or the mystery circles

By Peter Groves (31/05/2013)

Throughout the summer the "field of mystery circles" was dug up, does anyone know why? I was surprised that the clever Google technology has updated the virtual map and shows the excavation. However its not yet in "real-time" as the new view does not show the weeds!

By Peter Groves (10/10/2013)

Peter I think I may know the answer to your excavation mystery. The powers that be are creating an open air nursery there, to grow and nurture wild flowers, plants and weeds - this in turn will encourage wild birds, bumble bees, flying insects, creepy crawlies and all sorts of other delights that Mother nature has provided for us. As things become established the weeds etc will be transplanted in the city's parks, sports grounds, bowling greens, grass verges, central reservations and other public open spaces. Thus creating a "GREEN" utopia. However, in order to accommodate our travelling friends some areas will be maintained in a pristine condition.

By Chris Wrapson (13/10/2013)

70+ years ago, in the 1930s, I played here with Harvey Holford in the school holidays. An old house was tucked away in a copse near the N.E. corner of the plot and those depressions might well be where the bigger trees once stood. In the early '30s the road where the coaches were parked, then known as the Rottingdean Road, now Roedean Road, was the main coast road.  I lived near St Mark's School, in Arundel Road throughout the air raids and do not recall any bombs falling on this site.

By Ted Brooke (12/09/2017)

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