Bramber Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012174

Date first listed: 25-Aug-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jul-1991


Ordnance survey map of Bramber Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

Parish: Bramber

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

Parish: Steyning

National Grid Reference: TQ 18543 10728


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles were medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans and built from the 11th-13th centuries. They acted in many cases as prestigious residences and centres of local or royal administration. Motte and bailey 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 which survive in the modern landscape. Over 600 such monuments are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of monuments representative of the early post-conquest period, motte and bailey castles are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Enclosure castles are generally later in date than motte and bailey castles and were mostly built in the 13th century. They differ from the latter type in depending on the strength of the outer wall and gatehouse for defence rather than on a strong keep. They are rarer than motte and bailey castles, only 128 examples having been recorded, and represent an important stage in the development of the castle in England. Bramber Castle survives well and illustrates graphically the changes in castle form in the medieval period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthworks and internal area of a castle which was occupied almost continuously from 1075 to about 1450 by the descendants of the founder, William de Braose. Partial excavation of the site in 1966-7 revealed how the castle developed from a `motte and bailey' type to an `enclosure' type. The castle was established as a defensive and administrative centre for the newly established rape of Bramber. The motte was raised 9m above the knoll level using marl quarried from an encircling ditch 15-17m wide and up to 4m deep. The whole knoll top, 170m north-south by 85m east-west, was enclosed within a wall or palisade, and a stone gatehouse guarded the only entrance on the south side. The motte was soon abandoned in favour of a stone tower keep of three storeys built over the gatehouse, and the motte ditch was backfilled. An outer ditch, which plunged to 25m below the knoll top in places, was dug around the knoll and on its outer edge a bank was constructed to strengthen further the defences. Around the knoll top the wall was renewed or replaced in stone and still survives to a height of some 3m on the west side. Inside the castle were a number of buildings used until the 15th century. The footings of the access bridge on the south side of the castle survive beneath the modern structure here. Subsidence on a large scale saw the ruin of the castle during the 16th century. The approach path, the modern bridge and the access steps beyond are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Legacy System number: 12859

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barton, K, Holden, E, 'Archaeological Journal' in Excavations at Bramber Castle, , Vol. 134, (1977), 11-79

End of official listing