Motte and bailey castle in Pulborough Park


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


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

West Sussex
Horsham (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 03699 18914

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 example in Pulborough Park survives well despite some disturbance of the motte through subsidence and quarrying. In contrast to many such castles, it did not develop after the Norman period of use, is therefore unaltered from its original form and hence provides one of the best examples of its type in the South East. The castle holds considerable archaeological potential for the recovery of evidence not only of its organisation and period of use but also of the land use prior to its construction through traces sealed beneath the motte.


The monument includes the mound, or motte, and adjoining courtyard or bailey, each with enclosing ditches, of a castle dating from the early Norman period. The castle occupies a naturally-defended and strategic position above the River Arun. The motte is circular in plan and measures some 75m across at its base. It stands to an impressive 25m in height. The flat top originally measured 30m in diameter, but it has been disturbed by subsidence and quarrying to leave a horseshoe-shaped area within which evidence of the wooden tower and enclosing palisade is considered likely to survive. The bailey extends westwards from the motte and is separated from it by a 20m-wide ditch surviving to a depth of 2-2.5m. This courtyard area measures some 65m east-west by 50m north-south and provided a protected area for domestic buidings as well as quarters and stables, workshops and storage space for the holder of the castle and his retinue. Access was gained via a causeway in the north-east corner of the bailey. The whole of the castle was enclosed within a defensive ditch, except on the north side where steep slopes made such additional defence unnecessary. This ditch is typically 12-20m wide and is now at most 2.5m deep having been partly infilled by eroded soil from the bank on its inner edge. At the south-west corner the ditch has been infilled to allow a track to cross.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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:


Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
Motte & bailey castle Pulborough Park, County monument no 2310,


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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