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Arlington Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Rookery; Milton; Burghlow; Burlough; Middleton

In the civil parish of Arlington.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of East Sussex.
1974 county of East Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Pevensey).

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ52810397
Latitude 50.81512° Longitude 0.16780°

Arlington Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The monument includes a medieval hythe, or small landing place, associated earthworks including salt pans and "The Rookery" -- a natural outcrop of chalk which has resisted erosion and has been left upstanding -- which has been interpreted in the past as an unusual motte-and-bailey castle. The basin which formed the focus of the hythe measures 100m by 30m. It was supplied by a leat (now partially infilled) at the eastern end and was protected from floodwaters by a long earthen bank up to 1m high on this side. In the interior is a pair of flat-topped islands each some 32m by 12m in size which provided wharfage. The basin was drained through a leat at its north- western end. A causeway 7m wide separates the basin from a group of shallow ponds or salt pans on its western side. These 3 ponds together measure some 60m in length and 30m in width, and connect through leats with the old river channel. To the south of the ponds is a building platform 40m by 15m on which a storage building is considered likely to have stood. Nearby is a trackway which joined the hythe with the former manorial buildings of Milton Court. Limited excavation in 1952, both on "The Rookery" itself and in the area of the hythe, failed to reveal the date of the monument, but it is considered likely to date from the late medieval period, around 1300-1550, when trade goods from France would have formed an important component of the hythe's traffic as well as goods from other areas of England. The monument should be seen in conjunction with the former manorial complex of Milton Court. (Scheduling Report)

"Typical motte and twin baileys" occupying 1 1/2 acres. Pitt-Rivers shows it to be Norman, earlier than "Burlough Castle" (TQ 50 SW 21) (Cusson-OS record).
Braun suggests that the ditch between the motte and baileys was a modern drainage ditch, and is concerned that the mound is a long oval and not circular (Braun).
Musson, summarising previous authorities, concludes that it is a motte and baileys. In 1952 he cut, under difficult conditions, one trench across the top of the motte and another across the ditch between the motte and baileys. This latter trench proved that the ditch was not a drain as its base is well below normal water level. (Musson does not report finding anything in trenching the mound summit). The shape of the motte is due to it being a natural outlying spur of the hill to the NE. Documents dated 1371 and 1567 refer to "the manor lordship and Castell of Middleton alias Milton. (Musson)
The name "the Rookery" refers to an area of trees and bushes, bounded on the N and part of the E side by an oxbow of the Cuckmere, and on the SW and the remainder of the E side a ditch, now silted up and marshy. Within the enclosed area is an elongated mound, c 60.0m by c 30.0m and c 4.0m high, and two rectangular platforms, measuring respectively c 30.0m by c 10.0m and c 32.0m by c 16.0m, each separated one from the other by ditches now silted up.
The mound and platforms described have been classified by Musson, Burwen et al as a certain motte with twin baileys, yet ground inspection, and re-examination of sources available locally, cast doubt on this classification for the following reasons:
(i) The mound being elongated oval on plan, does not resemble a motte.
(ii) No artificial features are apparent on the mound, and without the ditch-like features to the S, it is merely a natural mound.
(iii) The ditches enclose rectangular areas more akin to a homestead moat than a motte and bailey.
(iv) There is no trace of defensive ramparts associated with the ditches. (The bank shown on the E side is for retaining purposes).
(v) The "baileys" are exceptionally small.
(vi) The whole complex does not give an impression of having been a strong defensive feature.
(vii) The ditches have sharp profiles, probably due to recutting.
On present physical evidence the feature cannot be accepted as a motte and bailey without reservations. (Field Investigators Comments–F1 NKB 07-AUG-72). (PastScape)

Hillock scarped into motte, said to have had some stonework at sometime.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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