'The Rookery' medieval hythe and associated earthworks at Milton Court


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of 'The Rookery' medieval hythe and associated earthworks at Milton Court
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

East Sussex
Wealden (District Authority)
Long Man
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 52771 03940

Reasons for Designation

The hythe and associated earthworks are a rare survival of a once more common riverside phenomenon. In the late medieval period, prior to the development of roads, rivers formed the main means of transport and of long distance trade. Ships needed wharfage to load and unload cargoes without damaging their keels, and a basin cut alongside the former course of the river at the landward limit of tidal influence was one way of providing shelter and a steady water level, while at the same time minimising the overland transport distances for traded goods. The survival of this example of a riverside port presents an opportunity to understand the organisation of such a monument and the means by which water- flow was managed. That the earthworks around the hythe have also survived adds to the diversity and potential of the monument. Evidence of the date- span of the monument and of the nature of the trade which passed through the hythe is considered likely to survive amongst the earthworks, along with the remains of warehousing and other structures. Finally, the presence of three salt pans adds a further dimension to this already complex group of earthworks by illustrating some of the economic diversity of the region during the late medieval period.


The monument includes a medieval hythe, or small landing place, associated earthworks including salt pans and "The Rookery" -- a natural outcrop of chalk which has resisted erosion and has been left upstanding -- which has been interpreted in the past as an unusual motte-and-bailey castle. The basin which formed the focus of the hythe measures 100m by 30m. It was supplied by a leat (now partially infilled) at the eastern end and was protected from floodwaters by a long earthen bank up to 1m high on this side. In the interior is a pair of flat-topped islands each some 32m by 12m in size which provided wharfage. The basin was drained through a leat at its north- western end. A causeway 7m wide separates the basin from a group of shallow ponds or salt pans on its western side. These 3 ponds together measure some 60m in length and 30m in width, and connect through leats with the old river channel. To the south of the ponds is a building platform 40m by 15m on which a storage building is considered likely to have stood. Nearby is a trackway which joined the hythe with the former manorial buildings of Milton Court. Limited excavation in 1952, both on "The Rookery" itself and in the area of the hythe, failed to reveal the date of the monument, but it is considered likely to date from the late medieval period, around 1300-1550, when trade goods from France would have formed an important component of the hythe's traffic as well as goods from other areas of England. The monument should be seen in conjunction with the former manorial complex of Milton Court. The fencing around the site is excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

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Books and journals
Musson, R, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Sussex Notes and Queries, (1954)
TQ 50 SW 22,


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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