Motte and bailey castle on Edburton Hill


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


Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle on Edburton Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 11:18:29.


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

West Sussex
Mid Sussex (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 23783 10988

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-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and the centre 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As such, and 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 castle on Edburton Hill survives well despite the mistaken efforts of 19th century barrow-diggers on the centre of the motte. It holds considerable archaeological potential for evidence of the role of such monuments during the Norman conquest in 1066 and contributes to an understanding of the Norman commanders' tactics immediately after the invasion since it lies on the path of the Norman army after the Battle of Hastings.


The monument includes the earthworks and interior area of a motte and bailey castle believed to date from the immediate post-Conquest period, soon after October 1066. On the south side of the monument is a circular mound - the motte - 30m in diameter and 2m above the general ground level at its crest. The centre of the motte is scarred by a depression resulting from mistaken barrow-digging in the 19th century, but much of the motte survives intact. It is completely surrounded by a ditch some 6m wide and still nearly 1m deep, and beyond the ditch around the southern half is a low bank 0.6m high which has been truncated slightly by ploughing on the southern extremity. A horseshoe-shaped ditch joins onto the motte ditch on the north-west and north-east corners. This ditch, again some 6m wide but deeper than the motte ditch - it survives to a depth of 1.5-1.8m, defines the bailey area. On the inner edge is a strong earthen bank up to 1.2m above the interior level and therefore up to 3m above the bottom of the ditch. This bank, in places 14m across, is breached to both east and west, and the ditch is correspondingly causewayed, to allow entry into the bailey. On the outer edge is a second bank, this one slighter and diminishing to nothing around the northern side where additional defence is made unnecessary by the steep slope. The low bank which extends southward from the eastern edge of the monument is a later land division and is not included in the scheduling.

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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Legacy System:


Motte & bailey castle Edburton Hill, County monument no 3803,


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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