Ancient Monuments

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Lewes Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Lewes, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8734 / 50°52'24"N

Longitude: 0.0082 / 0°0'29"E

OS Eastings: 541390.85199

OS Northings: 110136.620193

OS Grid: TQ413101

Mapcode National: GBR KQ2.2XB

Mapcode Global: FRA B6XS.M09

Entry Name: Lewes Castle

Scheduled Date: 28 August 1915

Last Amended: 24 October 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013268

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12872

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Lewes

Built-Up Area: Lewes

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Lewes St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


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.
Excluded from the scheduling are: the railway tunnel beneath the bailey; the
metalling of all paths, roads and car parks; all modern structures, ie. Castle
Lodge and the cellars on the eastern side of it; Castlegate House and its
cellars; Castle Precincts; the Malthouse; Castle Precincts Cottage; Brack
Mound House; and the service trenches to all these buildings. But the ground
beneath these features is included.
The Castle, the Barbican and Inner Gatehouse are Listed Buildings Grade I; The
Castle Lodge, Castlegate House, Curtain Wall, Brack Mound House, Castle
Precincts Cottage, Bowling Green Pavilion, Malthouse and Castle Precincts are
listed Grade II.

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.

This List entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 20/04/2017

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.

The castle at Lewes is one of only two in the country to have two mottes,
the other being Lincoln Castle, 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.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Yarrow, A, 'Sussex Arch Soc' in Lewes Castle, (1983)
Drewett, P, Excavations of the SW motte 1985-88, No publication details

Source: Historic England

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