Knepp Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Knepp Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 07:42:58.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Horsham (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 16322 20882

Reasons for Designation

Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bai1ey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The earthwork remains of Knepp Castle survive well despite the ruined condition of the above-ground walls, and it therefore holds considerable archaeological potential for evidence of the development of the castle. Its diversity of features, such as the approach causeway and the outer bank, illustrates well the adaptability of motte castles to suit the particular setting.


The monument includes the mound and ruins of a motte castle dating from soon after the Norman Conquest, together with its surrounding moat, outer bank and approach causeway. The castle was built by William de Braose as a northern stronghold in his Barony of Bramber. A prominent natural mound in the marshy floodplain of the River Adur was modified into a roughly oval motte 125m north-east/south-west by 80m north- west/south-east and 4.5m high. On the summit of this motte was built a keep originally some 15m square, of which a 9m length of the western wall survives to a height of 12m. Two main periods of building are evident in the surviving walling, of 11th/12th century and then of 13th century date, as well as numerous more recent repairs. The doorway and large window at first floor level indicate the position of the main chamber. The keep was largely dismantled in 1726 and used for road-building stone. Around the motte is a moat 7-11m wide and now silted up, with on its outer edge a low bank 6m wide and 1m high. This outer bank is pierced on the north-east side by an original gap 8m wide and on the western side by a modern drain. The causeway by which the castle is joined to the dry land to the west is 70m long, 8m wide and stands 1.6m high. It has been breached near its eastern end by a modern drain. The present drains through the outer bank and the causeway are excluded from the scheduling, as is the concrete culvert nearby. The ground on either side of the drains, however, is included. The lightning conductor on the keep ruins is also excluded.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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