Edburton Castle Ring

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameEdburton Castle Ring
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishFulking

"Castle Ring", a motte and bailey situated at the edge of the precipitous North facing slopes of the Downs, an unusual position, but one commanding a view North over the Weald, and South to the coast. The motte is circa 30.0m in diameter and 2.0m high, though reduced by mutilation on its summit, enclosed by a ditch, circa 6.0m wide and 0.8m deep with traces of an outer bank. The sub-rectangular bailey to the North of the motte is 35.0m East-West by circa 30.0m North-South internally, enclosed by a bank, circa 8.0m wide and up to 1.0m high and a ditch, circa 6.0m wide and 2.0m to 3.5m deep below the crest of the bank. An outer bank is visible on the West and South-East sides, but the steep natural slopes to the N make a bank around that side unnecessary. The motte is flanked to the North by two smaller mounds, probably resulting from the cutting of an East-West track across the whole work. (PastScape)

The castle on Edburton Hill survives well despite the mistaken efforts of 19th century barrow-diggers on the centre of the motte. It holds considerable archaeological potential for evidence of the role of such monuments during the Norman conquest in 1066 and contributes to an understanding of the Norman commanders' tactics immediately after the invasion since it lies on the path of the Norman army after the Battle of Hastings.

The monument includes the earthworks and interior area of a motte and bailey castle believed to date from the immediate post-Conquest period, soon after October 1066. On the south side of the monument is a circular mound - the motte - 30m in diameter and 2m above the general ground level at its crest. The centre of the motte is scarred by a depression resulting from mistaken barrow-digging in the 19th century, but much of the motte survives intact

It is completely surrounded by a ditch some 6m wide and still nearly 1m deep, and beyond the ditch around the southern half is a low bank 0.6m high which has been truncated slightly by ploughing on the southern extremity. A horseshoe-shaped ditch joins onto the motte ditch on the north-west and north-east corners. This ditch, again some 6m wide but deeper than the motte ditch - it survives to a depth of 1.5-1.8m, defines the bailey area. On the inner edge is a strong earthen bank up to 1.2m above the interior level and therefore up to 3m above the bottom of the ditch. This bank, in places 14m across, is breached to both east and west, and the ditch is correspondingly causewayed, to allow entry into the bailey. On the outer edge is a second bank, this one slighter and diminishing to nothing around the northern side where additional defence is made unnecessary by the steep slope. The low bank which extends southward from the eastern edge of the monument is a later land division (Scheduling Report)

On the summit of Edburton Hill, just within the parish, is the site of a motte-and-bailey castle, known as Castle Rings. It has a very small rectangular bailey, and an equally insignificant motte. It is probably an outpost castle constructed soon after the landing in 1066. The boundary of the rape, and the division between East and West Sussex, passes immediately to the west of the motteditch. (VCH 1940)

Gatehouse Comments

Badly worn earthwork possible motte although described by King as a ringwork. This must have been a difficult residential site, with a difficult water supply. Gatehouse find the explanation of this as an 'outwork castle' somewhat trite but if so it must have been an outwork of Lewes Castle although it should be asked by who and by what funding would this site have been occupied. If this was a medieval castle then it presumably represents an early site for one of the three manor houses of Fulking/Perching although these all seemed to have moved to below the slope of the South Down.

- 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 ReferenceTQ237110
Latitude50.8850593566895
Longitude-0.241569995880127
Eastings523780
Northings111000
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Spicer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 72
  • 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. 37
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 128
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 471
  • Salzman, L.F., 1940, 'Parishes: Fulking' VCH Sussex Vol. 7 p. 202-4 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Allcroft, 1924, Downland Pathways (London) p. 142
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 659-62 online copy
  • Clinch, G., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Sussex Vol. 1 p. 202, 476 online copy

Journals

  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127