The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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298                   THE SUSSEX COAST
made, sustained a siege at Pevensey in the interests of the same side. At that time the masonry defences consisted merely of the Roman walls, which had in some places fallen, and of a rough rubble keep which still partly exists in an over­grown state and appears in the upper photograph opposite, which had been thrown up by the Count of Mortain as a centre of defence. The castle reverting to the Crown was conferred in 1104 by Henry I. upon Gilbert de Aquila, who took his title from L'Aigle in Normandy, a place named from an eagle having built its nest there. Hence Pevensey and its lands became known as the "Honour of the Eagle." By Gilbert was probably built the existing Norman castle in the south-east corner of the Roman walls, which it incorporates as far as was possible, and sloping masonry was built to buttress them where they were leaning outwards. Where a great Roman tower had fallen and still lies unbroken (proving the great excellence of its mortar), among the bushes that appear on the right of the lower photograph oppo­site, was joined to the older work Norman masonry rising higher and built of larger stones, and the curtain wall was continued to enclose about an acre and a half, meeting the Roman wall again near the centre of the east side. Three great round towers and a tunnel-vaulted chief gateway with portcullis groove flanked by smaller towers are its most striking features. The gateway with the tall ruins of its northern tower appears in the chapter heading, of its southern tower little remains. A moat protects the Norman castle from an enemy that has carried the Roman defences, but it does not breach them, and in fact Anderida was adopted as the outer court
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