Arundel Castle

The fortress remains impressive despite the slighting and rebuilding of some of the castle buildings after the 17th century Civil War.  It is of an unusual twin bailey plan and consists of a Norman gatehouse with a keep on a powerful motte, two baileys surrounded by masonry defences and Civil War earthworks.

At the centre of the site is a motte and bailey castle, with a lesser bailey to the NE and the main ward to the SE.  The first castle comprised of the motte, some 250 feet in basal diameter and 65 feet above the courtyards, one on either side of the motte.  The surrounding ditches are up to thirty feet deep.  The shell keep on top of the motte, some 60 feet in diameter, has walls 30 feet high.  To the NE of the motte is a lesser bailey some 1,150 feet across.  This originally had strong earthworks on all sides except the NE where the steep slopes seem to have provided sufficient defence.  The lower levels of a stone gatehouse survive at the gap in this northern earthwork, while the rest of the enceinte is enclosed by a curtain wall with rectangular towers which project more externally than internally.  As such they could well date to the 12th century.  To the SE is the main bailey, which is more rectangular in layout, although this could have been caused by the late 18th century rebuilding.  That this was the main ward is suggested by the great entrance with barbican into this bailey commanded by the keep, which was also entered from this side.

The motte and two baileys would appear to date from 1068 when it was founded by Roger Montgomery (d.1093).  The castle was besieged for 3 months in 1102 by King Henry I when he defeated Earl Roger's son, Earl Robert Belleme of Shrewsbury.  This suggests early and powerful masonry defences.  At an early date the shell keep of Caen stone was constructed with its Romanesque round doorways.  It was later modified in the reign of Henry II when works were undertaken here by Roger Remfry, a royal justiciar and grandson of Henry I.  At the base of the motte is the gatehouse and a strongly projecting barbican with powerful rectangular towers.  It has been suggested that the lower part of the gatehouse may have been built for Roger Montgomery, the Domesday holder.  The middle stage of the gatehouse and cellars under the SE range appear stylistically to date from the late 12th century.

The castle was subjected to a 'unfeeling' rebuild in 1791-1815, which replaced sections destroyed in the civil war and altered many of the surviving buildings.  Despite this two impressive early windows remain in the 19th state appartments.

For more detailed descriptions of the castle see the CSG and British History

Why not join me at Arundel and other British castles this October?  Please see the information on tours at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2016 Paul Martin Remfry

  • Index

  • Home