Thought to date from the 5th millennium BC and 4th millennium BC, these mines represent some of the oldest mines in Europe, if not the world and predate the great neolithic sites of Stonehenge and Avebury.In the Neolithic period, the South Downs above Worthing was one of Britain's largest and most important flint-mining centres.

For much of the neolithic period of the stone age, it is likely that the Worthing area was at the borders of territory of two tribes, one based at the causewayed enclosure at Whitehawk Camp (in modern Brighton) and one centred on the causwayed enclosure at the Trundle (near modern Chichester).

However the apparent absence of settlement in the area at this time and other evidence from the mines themselves adds to speculation that the mines were special places, with sacred areas surrounding the mines.

It was believed that the boat dated from the Iron Age.

Roman coins, tiles and pottery have been discovered in several parts of the town.

The flints would have been used to make tools such as axes, scrapers and arrow heads.

At Harrow Hill, dozens of ox skulls have been found, suggesting ritual slaughter—possibly each autumn, as many animals would not have survived the winter.

Henges seem to have existed on the Downs near Worthing at Blackpatch, Church Hill, Cissbury and also at Cock Hill, midway between the neolithic mining areas of Harrow Hill and Blackpatch.

At Cock Hill lies a henge dating from the late neolithic period, 48 metres in diameter, roughly circular, with a single entrance to the south-east.

Such an area may have existed between the rivers Adur and Arun where the mines were situated on a block of downland that does not appear to contain any other contemporary monument.