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Motte and bailey castle on St Ann's Hill, Midhurst

A Scheduled Monument in Midhurst, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9858 / 50°59'8"N

Longitude: -0.7351 / 0°44'6"W

OS Eastings: 488881.396926

OS Northings: 121466.387005

OS Grid: SU888214

Mapcode National: GBR DF3.0Z9

Mapcode Global: FRA 96BH.ZBL

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle on St Ann's Hill, Midhurst

Scheduled Date: 28 September 1954

Last Amended: 19 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012176

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12855

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Midhurst

Built-Up Area: Midhurst

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Midhurst St Mary Magdalene and St Denis

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the earthworks and ruined walls of a castle dating
from the 12th century. The central area of the castle is the artificial
mound, or motte, an existing natural prominence which was heightened using
rubble. On the motte was built a roughly oval enclosing wall up to 1.7m
thick which defined an area 65m north-south by 50m east-west. Backing on
to the wall were a number of chambers used for living quarters, kitchens and
storage, as well as a small chapel dedicated to St Denis.
The motte was defended on the south and east sides by steep slopes. On the
north side a dry ditch was dug measuring over 10m wide which has now been
largely infilled by eroded soil although it is still over 3m deep at the
northern end. On the west side the defences were pierced by an arched
entrance, probably the front part of an otherwise wooden gatehouse.
To the north-west of the motte, and still within the defences, is a second
raised area which is likely to have been the site of ancillary buildings
such as stables and granaries. This bailey area measures 78m north-
east/south-west by 15-25m north-west/south-east.
The foundations of many of the stone walls of the castle were traced during
partial excavations by Sir W.St John Hope in 1913. The walls were partly
reconstructed so that they stand to ca.0.8m, the original stone having been
taken for other Midhurst buildings after the site's abandonment in favour of
the nearby Cowdray mansion in the Tudor period.
The two sets of steps and all of the modern fences and walls are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the
Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte,
surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of
examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey,
adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as
garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in
many cases, as aristocratic residences and the centre of local or royal
administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte 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 surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte
castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples
known from most regions. As such, and as one of a restricted range of
recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for
the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system.
Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles
continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after
which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Norman castles which evolved beyond the use of timber for their defences
often have a rigidly regular enclosed area on the motte - a shell keep -
unlike the enclosure wall of the example on St Ann's Hill which has been
tailored to fit the mound. This example, therefore, adds to the known
diversity of shell-keeps in the South East. It holds considerable
archaeological potential, especially in the areas of the dry ditch and the
bailey, despite the disturbance caused by tree-roots and by former partial
excavations. The importance of the castle is increased by its proximity to
the manor house at Cowdray 300m to the north-east which superseded it.

Source: Historic England


County Monument No 1162,

Source: Historic England

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