Hartfield Motte

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHartfield Motte
Alternative NamesHartfield Castle Field
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityEast Sussex
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishHartfield

Motte and bailey, excavations in 1912 found it consisted mainly of sandstone rubble and burnt earth with some C14 and C17 potsherds. Documentary sources suggest a date for the motte of c.1307. (PastScape)

An earthwork mentioned in 1835, consists of an oval mound 200' x 180', and some 7'-8' high. A modern drainage ditch lies on its south-east side.

Excavations in 1912, showed the mound consisted mainly of sandstone rubble, with a layer of blackened earth, and some burnt stones. A few 14th/17th century potsherds, and a small worked flint were found.

The absence of any ditch or structure remains, would suggest this to be a rubbish dump from a nearby quarry. Mackenzie however believes that the local name Castle Fields, together with the mound, indicates the site of a small castle. It was a hunting seat of the Barons of Pevensey, and a deed exists from Edward II dated from this place (Salzman 1914; Clark 70).

A Motte and Bailey, situated on the SE extremity of a low ridge in a pasture field. The motte, c 50.0 m in diameter at base and about 2.0 m high, is surrounded by vague traces of a silted-up ditch, best preserved on the W side where it is 0.5 m deep. The bailey extends along the ridge to the NW of the motte for a distance of about 75.0m. The enclosing ditch is 0.7m deep on the N side, but barely distinguishable elsewhere. There may have been a second bailey on the slopes to the SE, formed by a ditch on the N side, which connects with steepening natural slopes in the S and E (Field Investigators Comments–F1 NKB 14-JUN-71). (PastScape)

C. F. Tebbutt reports that a sewer trench dug in Castle Field near a circular mound, possibly a motte, revealed an encircling ditch containing medieval pottery. Finds to be deposited in Barbican House Museum, Lewes. (Med. Arch. 1976)

Gatehouse Comments

King rejected this as entirely natural presumably on the bases of Salzmann report that there wasno encircling ditch. The OS field investigators in the early 1970 seem to have no doubt about this being a motte and bailey and Tebbutt's find of an encircling ditch with medieval pottery would seem to support that identification. The location is certainly consistent with a manorial centre. The 1307 date given in MacKenzie is, apparently, the date of a deed from this place (I presume Hartfield not more specifically than that) not a date of construction which, if a motte, must be C11-C12.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ481360
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  • Jones, R., 2003, 'Hastings to Herstmonceux: the castles of Sussex' in Rudling, D. (ed) The archaeology of Sussex to AD2000 (Great Dunham: Heritage Marketing and Publications) p. 171-8
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 129
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 475 (reject)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 70 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 70 online copy


  • Tebbutt, C. Frederick, 1980, 'Castle Field, Hartfield (TQ 481 361)' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 118 p. 377-8
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1976, 'Medieval Britain in 1975' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 20 p. 185 online copy
  • Salzmann, L.F., 1914, ' Exploration of the 'Castle' Mound at Hartfield' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 56 p. 201-202 (rejects as castle mound) online copy