Lewes Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLewes Castle
Alternative NamesLaewe; Laewas; Lewis; Lauus; Lawes; castellum Delaquis
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityEast Sussex
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishLewes

Remains of flint built castle, begun circa 1100, extended in the C12 and C14, recently modified. The castle is approached from the South by an early C14 barbican which is followed by the Early Norman gatehouse which contains herring-bone coursing. There is some contemporary walling to its right and left, also, and more substantial curtain walling East of the Castle Gate House. On the West mound stands a shell-keep, again early Norman though strengthened by two C13 turrets. The only other remains are some walling and a tunnel-vault North of the keep belonging to a house along the path West of Castle Banks and some chalk masonry of the other mound, called Brack Mount. Originally there was a second shell-keep here. (PastScape)

The castle at Lewes is unique in having two mottes and hence illustrates some of the diversity of this class of monument. It survives well, with large areas of open space within which archaeological remains are considered likely to survive as well as with much original architectural detail. This is in spite of the disturbance caused by partial collapse of the motte, stone robbing, conversion to a pleasure garden, consolidation and partial excavation. Since it is opened to the public, the monument is of high amenity value.

The monument includes two mounds, the area between the mounds which includes some surviving Norman walling and vaults and part of the western ditch, all belonging to the Norman castle at Lewes, as well as the outer gateway added in the early 14th century. The Norman castle, built for William de Warenne shortly after the Conquest in AD1066, consists of two large mounds, or mottes, each surrounded by a deep ditch and linked by a broad courtyard, or bailey. The mottes were surmounted by timber palisades which were replaced by stone 'shell keeps' around AD1100

The bailey area, some 135m south-west/north-west by 100m south- east/north-west, also had a continuous flint wall with towers at intervals and a rectangular gatehouse, of which only the east wall survives. Angular towers were added to the shell keep of the south-western motte in the 13th century and in the early 14th century the round-turreted outer gatehouse, or barbican, was built to strengthen the gateway. In the 18th century the south-west motte was extensively reconstructed to form a Georgian pleasure garden. Much of the walling of the castle was consolidated in the early 20th century. Finally, excavations on the south-west motte in 1985-88 revealed details of the domestic buildings of the castle which backed onto the shell keep wall. These included a hall, kitchen and chapel. Included in the scheduling are the vaults under the Castle precincts and all surviving parts of the Norman and 14th century gatehouses. (Scheduling Report)

Castle. Circa 1100 for William de Warenne with two C13 turrets added by John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey. Flint with stone dressings, bands and copings, as well as quoins. Some repairs in brick. Shell keep with hexagonal towers to south and west connected by wall twenty yards long with remains of wall continuing to east and north for approximately twenty-five yards. West tower: three stages, with stone bands between. Embattled with loops in corners of third stage, shallower second stage and loops in wall-faces of lowest stage, replaced by tall narrow window in south-west face. South tower: four stages. Embattled above with stair-turret to north, rising slightly above tower with flagpole. Windows in top-stage, paired about corner. Shallower second and third stages with paired windows in second stage, in faces under string dividing this stage from the third above. Battered walls below, up from motte. Court: stair-turret against south tower with two Gothick-glazed pointed-arched windows. Single-storey flat-roofed and embattled block against entrance to south tower with pointed arched entrance in east face and pointed-arched Gothick-glazed window in front face. Pointed arched entrance to recess to right. West tower: deep recessed entrance, narrowing with chalk blocks below impost level. (Listed Building Report)

Castle not much used after 1347 when it passed into the hands of Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel and 'the old pile was neglected and suffered to moulder away piecemeal' (Mackenzie).

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ414101
Latitude50.8732795715332
Longitude0.00817999988794327
Eastings541400
Northings110100
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Beth Hoffman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Beth Hoffman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Beth Hoffman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Beth Hoffman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Beth Hoffman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Higham, Robert, 2015, Shell-keeps re-visited: the bailey on the motte? (Castle Studies Group - online publication) online copy
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • 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. 48-52
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 251-2 (plan)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 129, 184
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 144-46
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 90-7
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 472
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 253-4
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 223-5
  • Nairn, Ian and Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1965, Buildings of England: Sussex (Harmondsworth)
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 60
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1940, VCH Sussex Vol. 7 p. 19-24 online transcription
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 165-6 online copy
  • Hamilton Thompson, A., 1912, Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages (London) p. 50-1 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Clinch, G., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Sussex Vol. 1 p. 475 online copy
  • Round, J.H. and Salzmann, L.F., 1905, 'Intorduction to the Sussex Domesday' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Sussex Vol. 1 p. 351- online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 79-81 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 378-9 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 292
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 5 p. 168-71 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Portcullis - design and development' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 132-201
  • Gammon, A., 2007, 'Brack Mount keep: searching for new evidence' Sussex Past and Present Vol. 111 p. 6-7
  • Woodburn, Bill and Guy, Neil, 2005-6, 'Lewes' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol 19 p. 66-73
  • 2005, 'Lewes Castle - Brack Mount' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 18 p. 160-5
  • Thomas, G., 2001, 'An archaeological discovery on Brack Mount, Lewes, East Sussex' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 139 p. 224-7 online via online copy
  • Farrant, John H, 1996, ' 'A garden in a desert place and a palace among the ruins': Lewes castle transformed, 1600 - 1850' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 134 p. 169-178
  • Drewett, Peter L., 1992, 'Excavations at Lewes Castle, East Sussex 1985 - 1988' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 130 p. 69-106
  • Ruddling, D., 1992, 'The archaeology of Lewes: some recent research' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 130 p. 45-77
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Drewett, Peter L,, 1988, 'Excavations of the south-west motte 1985–88' Sussex Archaeological Society Newsletter 56 p. 3–6
  • Farrant, John H, 1987, 'A place among the ruins ...' Sussex Archaeological Society Newsletter Vol. 52 p. 12–13
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 309
  • Drewett, Peter L, 1986, 'Lewes Castle excavations' Sussex Archaeological Society Newsletter Vol. 50 p. 501–3
  • Drewett, Peter L, 1985, 'Lewes Castle excavations, 1985' Sussex Archaeological Society Newsletter 47 p. 452
  • Rudling, David R, 1984, 'A Trial Excavation in Castle Ditch Lane, Lewes, East Sussex' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 122 p. 222
  • Rudling, David R, 1984, 'A trial excavation in Castle Ditch Lane, Lewes, East Sussex' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 122 p. 222
  • Rudling, David R, 1983, 'The Archaeology of Lewes: some recent research' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 121 p. 45–77
  • Page, A.B., 1972, 'The Lip of the Brack Mount Ditch, Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 110
  • Wilcox, R., 1972, 'Timber Reinforcement in Medieval Castles' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 193-202
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 148 download copy
  • Holden, E.W., 1968-71, 'Lewes Castle' Sussex notes and queries Vol. 17 p. 184-88 (excavation report)
  • Godfrey, W.H., 1966, 'Lewes Castle. Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Society Vol. 14
  • Salzman, Louis F., 1961, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 116 p. 260
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Godfrey, Walter H, 1929, 'The Barbican, Lewes Castle' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 70 p. 9-18
  • Salzman, Louis F., 1923, 'The Castle of Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 64 p. 134-139
  • Salzman, Louis F., 1922, 'The Castle of Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 63 p. 166-179
  • Allcroft, A.H., 1917, 'The First Castle of William de Warrenne' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 75 p. 36-78 online copy
  • Armitage, E., 1904 April, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 235-6 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 212-3 online copy
  • Sawyer, Frederick Ernest, 1887, ' Lewes Castle in Domesday Book (Ref SAC Vol. 34, p 59)' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 35 p. 191 p. 123
  • Clark, George T., 1886, 'The Castle of Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 34 p. 57-68 online copy
  • Clarke Jnr, Somers, 1886, 'Some Supplementary Notes on the Castle Of Lewes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 34 p. 69-70 online copy
  • Cooper, William Durrant, 1858, ' Lewes Castle the County Prison?' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 10 p. 213 online copy

Guide Books

  • Poole, H., 1997, Lewes Castle and Barbican House Guidebook (Lewes: Sussex Archaeological Society)
  • Godfrey, W.H., 1928-77 (13 editions), Lewes Castle (Lewes: Sussex Archaeological Society)

Primary Sources

  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls Series 73) Vol. 2 p. 419 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 449-50

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • Thomas, Garbor, 2000, The Archaeology of Brack Mount: details of an exciting archaeological discovery on the summit of one of Lewes's most prominent landmarks (The Sussex Archaeological Society) online copy