Medieval ringwork at Clay Hill


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


Ordnance survey map of Medieval ringwork at Clay Hill
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This copy shows the entry on 31-Mar-2020 at 09:31:53.


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

East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 44904 14300

Reasons for Designation

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60 with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular significance to our understanding of the period.

Despite the disturbance caused by excavation and wartime digging, the monument survives well and retains considerable archaeological potential. It is one of only a dozen known examples in the South-East.


The earthwork east of Clay Hill is a ringwork dating to the late Anglo- Saxon/early Norman period. The monument includes a ditch of varying depth and up to 7m across, the earth from which was used to create a mound some 2.5m high and 40m in diameter. The top of the mound was strengthened further by a 1.5m high bank around its edge, and in all likelihood by a wooden palisade. The small area within the bank provided the site for buildings and perhaps a watchtower. Access was gained through an entrance on the eastern side, represented by a 7m gap in the bank, beyond which the remains of a wooden bridge can be expected to survive. Small-scale excavations at the site in 1922 recovered Norman or early medieval pottery. A plan completed at the same time shows that the bank on the top of the mound was formerly continuous apart from at the entrance. It also demonstrates the existence of the ditch around the northern side of the mound. Wartime emplacements and more recent ploughing have partially obscured these features.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Toms, H S, Sussex Archaeological Collections, (1922)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Ringworks, (1988)
TQ 41 SW 5,


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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