Ancient Monuments

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Bramber Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Bramber, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8838 / 50°53'1"N

Longitude: -0.3163 / 0°18'58"W

OS Eastings: 518534.488586

OS Northings: 110722.701356

OS Grid: TQ185107

Mapcode National: GBR HLS.JTX

Mapcode Global: FRA B67R.SQ5

Entry Name: Bramber Castle

Scheduled Date: 25 August 1925

Last Amended: 31 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012174

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12859

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Bramber

Built-Up Area: Steyning

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Beeding St Peter and Bramber St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the earthworks and internal area of a castle which was
occupied almost continuously from 1075 to about 1450 by the descendants of
the founder, William de Braose. Partial excavation of the site in 1966-7
revealed how the castle developed from a `motte and bailey' type to an
`enclosure' type.
The castle was established as a defensive and administrative centre for the
newly established rape of Bramber. The motte was raised 9m above the knoll
level using marl quarried from an encircling ditch 15-17m wide and up to 4m
deep. The whole knoll top, 170m north-south by 85m east-west, was enclosed
within a wall or palisade, and a stone gatehouse guarded the only entrance
on the south side. The motte was soon abandoned in favour of a stone tower
keep of three storeys built over the gatehouse, and the motte ditch was
backfilled. An outer ditch, which plunged to 25m below the knoll top in
places, was dug around the knoll and on its outer edge a bank was
constructed to strengthen further the defences. Around the knoll top the
wall was renewed or replaced in stone and still survives to a height of some
3m on the west side.
Inside the castle were a number of buildings used until the 15th century.
The footings of the access bridge on the south side of the castle survive
beneath the modern structure here. Subsidence on a large scale saw the ruin
of the castle during the 16th century.
The approach path, the modern bridge and the access steps beyond are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey castles were medieval fortifications introduced into
Britain by the Normans and built from the 11th-13th centuries. They acted
in many cases as prestigious residences and centres of local or royal
administration. Motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic
positions dominating their immediate locality and as a result are the most
visually impressive monuments of the early post-conquest period which
survive in the modern landscape. Over 600 such monuments are recorded
nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted
range of monuments representative of the early post-conquest period, motte
and bailey castles are particularly important for the study of Norman
Britain and the development of the feudal system. Enclosure castles are
generally later in date than motte and bailey castles and were mostly built
in the 13th century. They differ from the latter type in depending on the
strength of the outer wall and gatehouse for defence rather than on a strong
keep. They are rarer than motte and bailey castles, only 128 examples
having been recorded, and represent an important stage in the development
of the castle in England.
Bramber Castle survives well and illustrates graphically the changes in
castle form in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barton, K, Holden, E, 'Archaeological Journal' in Excavations at Bramber Castle, , Vol. 134, (1977), 11-79

Source: Historic England

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