Lodsworth Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameLodsworth Castle
Alternative NamesLodsbridge Mill; Selham
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishLodsworth

A small motte apparently built in C13. After temporary occupation the top was heightened and a light palisade may have surrounded the motte top at that time. Impressions of cross trees were found in the centre, presumably for some structure above. Finds suggest, but do not prove convincingly, this is a windmill base of circa 1700. Alternatively the cross trees may represent the base of a small central tower or look-out platform put up in C13. Excavated by the Brighton & Hove Arch Sec in 1964. (Holden).

Motte 6.0m in height, grass-covered with some trees growing upon it, an ornamental feature within a private garden. In good condition. (Field Investigators Comments–F1 ASP 02-APR-70). (PastScape)

E. W. Holden excavated on a mound close to Lad's Mill (a water-mill). The mound, which is of local sand, had the appearance of a motte. Although 12th- to 13th-century pottery, a clay layer and two hearths were found 3 ft. and more below the present surface, no traces of a palisade or of a central tower which can definitely be assigned to these centuries were located. At c. 12 to 15 in. below the top there were shallow post-holes around the perimeter of the two quadrants excavated, while a central feature at the same level showed that sleeper beams in the form of a cross had once been there. The arms of the cross-trees were between 12 and 13 It. long and probably represent the base of a 16th-century windmill. A cutting from the base of the mound outwards revealed a quarry-ditch. (Med. Arch 1965)

Despite the limited damage caused to the castle near Lodsbridge Mill by its reuse for a windmill, the construction of a road over part of the ditch and by the partial excavation of the motte-top and ditch, much of the monument retains intact and has significant archaeological potential

In addition, the monument is well documented archaeologically and its later history is also well understood.

The monument south of Lodsbridge Mill includes the mound and encircling ditch of a small motte castle dating from the 13th century which was abandoned in the same century and subsequently reused in the late 17th/ early 18th century for the site of a windmill. The motte takes the form of a truncated cone of sandy soil standing nearly 5m above the general ground level. At its base it measures some 40m in diameter and it narrows to a diameter of 15m at the top. The ditch, present except to the west of the motte where the natural slope to the river was sufficient, has been completely infilled and is no longer visible on the surface. Its former course around the eastern side of the motte is nevertheless traceable in the curved fenceline and road on this side. Excavation in 1964 confirmed that the surrounding ditch, some 18m across, had provided the sand and gravel from which the motte was constructed. After a short period of use, the motte was heightened by more than 1m and a palisade of timber posts was erected around the motte top. Pottery found during the excavation suggested that both of these phases of use were in the 13th century. The castle was abandoned before the end of the century. Three hundred years of subsequent disuse ended with the erection of a windmill around 1700, its presence being marked by the characteristic cross- tree type of support, traces of which were exposed in the excavation. The windmill appears not to have been used after 1750. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The site is not unlikely for a motte but the mound was investigated in the mid 60's when the 900th anniversary of the Norman Conquest was producing a milieu which may have effect the interpretation of this site. Gatehouse considers the site requires proper re-assessment by a early castles specialist. Jones lists a castle at Selham separately to the one at Lodsworth. He references Holden in regard to this. Does Holden describe a second site? Has Jones confused the report and produced two sites? Has he confused the location given by Holden in his report and assumed that the motte very near to Selham must be a separate motte from one at Lodsworth, when, in fact, they appear to be the same. Lodsbridge Mill, mentioned in the title of Holden's paper is directly north of the motte but over the river.

- 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 ReferenceSU933210
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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
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Sussex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 53
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 358
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 2,136
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 472


  • Holden, Eric W., 1967, 'The excavation of a Motte at Lodsbridge Mill, Lodsworth' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 105 p. 103-126
  • (Holden), 1965, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 9 p. 192 online copy