Church Norton; The Mound

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Possible Artillery Fort

There are earthwork remains

NameChurch Norton; The Mound
Alternative NamesThe Mount; Pagham Harbour
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishSelsey

Earthwork remains of an C11 ringwork castle; traces of possible Iron Age occupation were found; Neolithic scrapers and other worked flints were found during excavations. Roman tile and pottery may indicate the site of a villa. (PastScape)

The ringwork south of St Wilfred's chapel is well documented archaeologically and still retains considerable archaeological potential despite the limited disturbance caused by the partial excavation and by burials in the churchyard. The significance of the ringwork is considerably enhanced by the possibility of Anglo-Saxon occupation on the same site and by its close association with St Wilfred's Chapel which predated the construction of the ringwork and continued in use throughout its lifetime.

The monument includes a semi-circular earthen bank and outer ditch and the area within the earthworks in which the remains of stone buildings have been located. This area forms the southern half of a Norman ringwork castle, the northern half of which has been incorporated into the churchyard of St Wilfred's chapel. The outer ditch is the most easily visible feature. It defines a semi-circle 90m across and takes the form of a ditch some 12m wide and 1.8-2m deep which is likely to have been water-filled for defence. On the inner edge is a bank which has been disturbed on the SW side but which survives to some 2.5m in height to the SE. A narrow strip of the flat interior area was excavated in 1911, and the foundations located then were explored further in 1965. They were shown to be the remains of a strong stone tower 9.5m square, with a second building 6.5m by 5.5m to the east of the tower which was interpreted as a residence. Other buildings are considered very likely to survive in the interior of the castle. Finds from the excavation showed that the castle had been built soon after the Norman invasion of 1066 and had been occupied for less than a century

They also suggested that the castle had been built on a site which had seen significant activity in the preceding Anglo-Saxon period. (Scheduling Report)

North of the Old Rectory, on the slight rise where the church stands, is an earthwork, at present crescentic in form but perhaps originally extending into the churchyard. It consists of a ditch, about 9 ft. deep, and a vallum, mainly constructed of shingle, rising to 18 ft. above the bottom of the ditch. Some rather desultory and inconclusive excavations (Suss. Arch. Coll. Vol. 55 p. 56-62) in 1911 tended to confirm the local tradition that it was a fortification thrown up in 1587 against the coming of the Spanish Armada. Traces of an earlier massive building, and of Roman occupation were found within the ramparts. (VCH 1953)

Church Norton, on the Selsey peninsula (Sussex), was the centre of the Anglo- Saxon see of Sussex until 1075. A ringwork lies adjacent to the cathedral site, containing the excavated foundations of a substantial tower and chamber associated with mid-11th to mid-12th century pottery. Despite being used as a church belfry in the later medieval period, there is no evidence that it was anything other than a secular tower (Salzman 1912; Aldsworth 1979; Aldsworth and Garnett 1981). The tower was probably part of a pre-1075 episcopal residence rather than a later Norman castle. The secular tenants of the site following the removal of the see to Chichester are too petty to be likely castle-builders (Williams and Martin 2002, 39): the few early Norman castles in the county were each built by wealthy magnates (listed in Jones 2003, 173). (Shapland 2012)

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 ReferenceSZ872956
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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
  • Williams, A. and Martin, A.H., 2002, The Domesday Book: A Complete Translation (London: Penguin) p. 39
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Sussex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 474
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1953, VCH Sussex Vol. 4 p. 207 online transcription


  • Aldsworth, F.G. and Garnett, E.D., 1981, 'Excavations on 'The Mound' at Church Norton, Selsey, in 1911 and 1965' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 119 p. 217-221
  • Aldsworth, F.G., 1979, ' 'The Mound' at Church Norton, Selsey, and the Site of St Wilfrid's Church' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 117 p. 103-108
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Salzman, L.F., 1912, 'Excavations at Selsey, 1911' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 55 p. 56-62, 317


  • Shapland, Michael, 2012, Buildings of Secular and Religious Lordship: Anglo-Saxon Tower-nave Churches (PhD Thesis University College London) esp. chapter 7