The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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Warenne, husband of Gundrada, the daughter of Matilda and perhaps of the Conqueror too. High upon the ridge already mentioned, detached from other hills, whether or not on the site of the burh, he erected his strong castle on a quite unusual plan. (Most, in fact, of our Sussex castles are peculiar in some way or other, chiefly from the exigencies of situation ; there is not a single exist­ing example of the typical rectangular keep.) The highest part of the ridge for the distance of about 120 yards was levelled and scarped to form a great oval court, and at each end was thrown up a motte, or perhaps existing eminences, whether natural or artificial, were utilised. The western one, a most impressive mound, formed the keep or chief centre of defence, the other, known as Brackmount, was fortified on a rather smaller scale. Curtain walls formed, at any rate in places, an additional protection to the escarpments of the court; and on the south, facing the town, was built a grim gateway, the front wall of which, pierced by a great Norman arch, curiously strengthened by a lower order apparently not long after its erection, still exists.
A later earl of the House of Warenne about the middle of the twelfth century erected a very massive shell-keep on the highest mound; its walls are 10 to 12 feet thick, its plan is an oval of 34 by 27 yards. Only a small part of this shell remains, and its only striking feature is a huge fireplace, which Clark is probably right in thinking was excavated in its masonry when late in the thirteenth century four multangular towers were added—regular passages through their thick walls leading to their narrow lancets. One remains fairly perfect, and from its battlements may be
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