86.—Pevensey Castledetails

[Picture: 86.—Pevensey Castle]
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86.—Pevensey Castle

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“The Rape of Pevensey is of a curious shape. [Sussex is divided into six regions called Rapes] It narrows somewhat towards the middle and bulges out towards the top, or north end. This appears to be the contrary of what one would expect in a Sussex division, the important part of which always lay round the sea cost [to the south], but the cause of the shape thus assumed by the Rape is that in its northern part the iron industry had arisen long before the Norman Conquest [1066], and had thus opened up the Weald; it had also made the government of the area and the collection of taxes from it a subject of ambition for the strongest of the neighbouring lords.

“Such a lord was found in the Earl of Moreton, the broteher-in-law of the Conqueror, who held the Castle of Pevensey, and who was the first controller of the district after the full Norman organisation began.

“Here, as in the case of Hastings, but unlike every other Rape, the seat of government, Pevensey, was actually upon the sea.

“The name Pevensey is instructive of its antiquity. It is probably derived from Celtic roots signifying “the fortification at the far end of the wood,” which would exactly describe an important and fortified sea-coast town situated as Pevensey was situated to the forest from which it took its Roman name; for “Anderida,” or “Andresio,” certainly refers to the Weald, the Celtic forest of “Andred,” of which the Saxons made the “Andredswald.” (pp. 86ff)

“It is doubtful whether anything of Roman structure remains in Pevensey, though much of the material used in that castle is Roman, and though the towers of that fortification are round. It is enough to remark, that after the long night of the Saxon period the town shared in the general renaissance of South England which followed the Norman Conquest. To give but one indication of this: it trebled in population in twenty years. There is little doubt that at this period, that is, throughout the end of the eleventh century, the whole of the twelfth, and beginning of the thirteenth, the harbour lay beneath the mound of the present ruins. The contour lines, slight as they are in elevation, and the nature of the soil are enough to prove this; nor is it difficult, as one stands on the height of Pevensey Castle to reproduce the scene which must have presented itself to the eye of a man living six hundred years ago when he looked northwards and eastwards at high tide.” (pp. 88ff)

In fact there are 4th century Roman remains at Pevensey.

English Heritage Official Pevensey Castle Web page



95 x 145mm (3.7 x 5.7 inches)

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