Tottingworth Enclosure

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Other/Unknown)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameTottingworth Enclosure
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityEast Sussex
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishHeathfield And Waldron

At Tottingworth is the site of a very early (probably pre-Roman) encampment. It is a univallate earthwork with outer ditch, oval in shape, 140' x 102'. Very little now remains as it was deliberately destroyed some years ago, but not before detailed measurements had been taken (VCH 1905; Dawson 1901 {attributed to a J. Lewis and Vol. 17.3})

The siting was supplied to the OS (on request in 1908) by Charles Dawson in a letter accompanied by a very bad sketch (both in ONB). All that can really be got from these is that a 'Camp' of the dimensions given in VCH and Dawson was at somewhere about the published position, that the drive cut through it, that it was 'shown' (presumably undescribed) on OS 25", and that a large tree stood on its SW side.

The ONB does not explain how the OS was able to publish the site, let alone its outline, from the information given, and no pre-1908 25" or 6" shows either 'Camp' or any shape approximating to the post-1908 outline. Therefore while the siting is probably about right, the outline is more than suspect, particularly as it accords neither with the dimensions nor the orientation given by Dawson (Revision ONB Sussex 42 NW 1908).

This site occupies a position half-way down the slope of a fairly steep clay spur. It is cut through by a drive, and an ancient beech tree stands on a mound beside it, so it is almost certainly the spot intended by Dawson. The mound shows that the whole of the area of the 'camp' has been lowered by about 1.0m. The slopes shown on the OS 25" as part of the 'camp' are in fact part natural, part spill, resulting from this. The area above the site is now the playing field of Tottingworth Park School but a depression at the NE fringe is said by the gardeners to be the result of digging soil for the greenhouses when the house was a private residence

The earthwork could hardly have been a defensive one and it is impossible to say what it represented (F1 CFW 23-APR-70).

Excavation in 1992 has dated the earthwork to the Medieval period, probably 13th to 14th century. No evidence as to its function was discovered however (Gardiner) (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Record by Jones (2003) as a fortification but there seems no reason to think this slight and ambiguous earthwork is any such thing. Is in an area called Tottingworth Park and may be a park feature of some sort. C. Dawson was Charles Dawson the Piltdown forger and amateur archaeologist who seems to have an entirely undeserved reputation and who's entire body of work should be suspect.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ614224
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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
  • Clinch, G., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Sussex Vol. 1 p. 478 online copy


  • Gardiner, M., 1993, 'An earthwork at Tottingworth, Heathfield' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 131 p. 68-72
  • Dawson, C., 1901, 'Excursion to Heathfield and Brightling' Proceedings of the Geologists' Association Vol. 17.4 p. 174


  • Gardiner, M., 1992, An Earthwork at Tottingworth, Heathfield (SEAS Report)