Pevensey Town Defences

Has been described as a Questionable Urban Defence

There are uncertain remains

NamePevensey Town Defences
Alternative NamesPefenesea; Pevensye; Anderida; Anderitum
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityEast Sussex
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishPevensey

Pevesney town occupied the Roman fort before the building of the castle and may have done so after. (King)

Domesday Book records that when Robert, Count of Mortain acquired Pevensey (possibly in the spring of 1067), the 52 burgesses of the pre-Conquest town had been reduced to 27, but evidently this was temporary (and possibly the result of the immediate impact of the Norman invasion and use of Pevensey as a military base), as by 1086 the town had expanded to 110 burgesses, tolls had risen to £4, and there was a mint. The mint had been established in 1077 and ceased operation in the 1150s. It was one of only seven mints operating in the Norman period in Sussex (the others were at Arundel, Bramber, Chichester, Hastings, Lewes, Rye and Steyning). This rapid growth evidently reflects the adoption of the Roman fort as the castle and administrative centre of the rape, and conscious promotion of the town by Robert of Mortain. (Harris 2008)

Whilst discovery of Saxon material within the fort and immediately outside the west gate provides reasonable grounds for concluding that the Roman fort was occupied during this period, post-Conquest finds need not relate to anything other than re-use of the fort as a castle. Nor does the decline in occupational debris in the castle in the late 12th and early 13th centuries imply that this was when the town relocated to its present site, as Lyne suggests despite the fact that much of the evidence comes from parts of the Roman fort unambiguously in Norman military use (e.g. the concentration of trenches around and near the east gate – within the Norman inner bailey – and in and around the defences in the west gate area). In short, nothing excavated within the castle has shown that civilian use continued after Conquest. (Harris 2008)

Gatehouse Comments

The location of village, including the parish church, is now outside the East gate of the castle and the evidence for medieval settlement within the Roman walls is not great. It may well be that there was no town within the Roman walls after the foundation of the castle although, clearly, the large enclosure could have been used as a place of safe retreat by the locals and their livestock, in emergencies. Pre-Conquest settlement within the walls may be more possible.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ644048
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 476


  • Harris, R.B., March 2008, Pevensey Historic Character Assessment Report: Sussex Extensive Urban Survey Download copy