Arundel siege castles

Has been described as a Possible Siege Work

There are uncertain remains

NameArundel siege castles
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil Parish

Arundel Castle was besieged for 3 months in 1102 during Robert Belesme revolt against Henry I. Another possible siege took place in 1138, during the Anarchy, when Matilda was given refuge by William de Albini at Arundel Castle. Stephen is presumed to built siege works around the castle but the King marched on the castle and, after a short time, allowed Matilda to leave and go on to Bristol so it may be that the presumed siege was no such thing.

A.D. 1102. In this year at the Nativity was the King Henry at Westminster, and at Easter in Winchester. And soon thereafter arose a dissention between the king and the Earl Robert of Belesme, who held in this land the earldom of Shrewsbury, that his father, Earl Roger, had before, and much territory therewith both on this side and beyond the sea. And the king went and beset the castle at Arundel; but when he could not easily win it, he allowed men to make castles before it, and filled them with his men (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)

Gatehouse Comments

Suggested site are; Ford (TQ00180370), Lyminster (TQ02810624), Rackham (TQ054126), Cock Hill, Patching (TQ08920974), Warningcamp (TQ03020680), The Burgh (TQ04791122) and Pulborough (TQ03731894), although only Waringcamp is reasonably certain and Ford possible - the other sites are highly questionable (see individual site record). King writes "there may have been others" all these sites are east of Arundel and nothing is identified to the west of Arundel. The function of the 1102 siege castles was to contain the forces in Arundel castle rather than to produce a total blockade and force a surrender by starvation. Care has to be taken with the phrases like "make castles" and 'build castles' as this can simply mean garrisoning existing sites or buildings. Even more care has to be taken with concepts of what happen during medieval sieges. Hollywood images of massed troops, battering rams, boiling oil are highly misleading. Large sieges, such as Henry V siege of Harfleur, were rare. Most C12 sieges were probably very small affairs with dozens of soldiers involved rather than hundreds. Follow the links to the primary sources to see how little information is actually given in the primary sources and how much later historians have built their own concepts onto these

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ018073
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 97
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 172, 270
  • Coulson, Charles, 1994, 'The Castles of the Anarchy' in King, Edmund (ed.), The Anarchy of King Stephen's Reign (Oxford University Press) p. 65-92 (for general discussion)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 474
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 94
  • Allcroft, A.H., 1930, Waters of the Arun (London) p. 81-92
  • Tierney, M.A., 1834, The History and Antiquities of the Castle and Town of Arundel (London: G. and W. Nichol) Vol. 1 p. 56 online copy


  • Purton, Peter, 1998, 'The siege castles at Arundel' Postern Vol. 8 p. 13-4

Primary Sources

  • Chibnall, Majorie (ed), 1978, Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica book XI (Oxford: Clarendon Press) Vol. 6 p. 20 (1102 siege) online copy
  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) (1102 siege) view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 56-7 (1138 siege) online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription >])
  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1889, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II., and Richard I. (London: Rolls Series) Vol. 4 p. 82-3 online copy