The remains of Anderita Saxon Shore fort, later, Norman defences, an enclosure castle, a 16th century gun emplacement and World War II defences. The Roman fort has been dated to the first half of the fourth century AD. Covering almost 4ha, the fort survives in the form of substantial ruins and buried remains. It is enclosed by a massive defensive wall which was strengthened by irregularly-spaced, externally projecting semicircular bastions. Anderita is thought to have been abandoned by the latter half of the 4th century AD, though the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a massacre of Britons here by the invading Saxons in AD 491. William the Conquerer landed at Pevensey in 1066, and the Norman army are believed to have made use of the Roman fort as one of their first armed camps. After Pevensey was granted to King William's half-brother Robert, Count of Mortain, the medieval defences went through 300 years of development, culminating in the construction of a stone built enclosure castle within the largely intact walls of the earlier Roman fort. In 1372 the castle was given to John of Gaunt, and during his period of office was used to imprison James I, King of Scotland. By 1300, the sea had gradually begun to recede from around the castle and its military importance declined as a result. By 1500 the castle fell into disrepair. However, the threat of the Spanish Armada led to two demi-culverins, or heavy guns, being housed there in 1587. At the outbreak of World War II, after standing as a ruin for a couple of centuries, the castle was refortified in May 1940 as an observation and command post. (PastScape) trans mare Peneuesellum appulit, ubi statim firmissimo uallo castrum condidit, probisque militibus commisit.
he crossed the sea and landed at Pevensey, where at once he built a strongly entrenched fortification which he entrusted to his valiant warriors. (William of Jumièges - translation by Van Houts)
Archaeological evidence from Pevensey shows there to have been almost continual occupation from the mid-late Saxon period within the Roman walls, while topographical evidence suggests that Hastings was an unlikely place for an Alfredian burh. It is therefore suggested that Pevensey was the site of a the burh of Haestingaceaster, that Hastings was a mid or late C11 foundation, and that Haestingaport could refer to either location. (PastScaperef. Combes and Lyne, 1995). In consider this point readers should be aware that the coastline at both Pevensey and Hastings has changed very considerable since the C11 and much of C11 Hastings has been lost to coastal erosion.
The Roman Saxon Shore fort of Anderita is of oval plan and is dated to the first half of C4. The fort covers an area of almost 4 ha. The walls stand up to a height of nearly 8m and are 3.7m thick; they were protected by 15 irregularly-spaced projecting semi-circular bastions of which 10 still survive. Some texts, in reference to the Saxon Shore fort, may also mention finds made in 1907 of stamped and inscribed Roman bricks. These were found, in the 1970's, to frauds made by Charles Dawson, the Piltdown Man fraudster.
William the Conquerer landed here and an internal palisade and ditch in the NE part of the fort is probably associated with this event, a motte may also have been built before 1200; the Roman gateways were also rebuilt at this time. C.1100 a rectangular stone keep was built in the SE part of the fort, it is now ruined. C.1200 a smaller stone-built inner bailey was constructed creating an enclosure castle, the curtain was was built c.1250. By 1500 the castle fell into disrepair, the receding coastline had reduced its importance. The ruins of the keep were, until 1908, buried under a mound of earth and rubble which lead to early writers including G.T. Clark to mistake it for a motte. It is possible that a small motte was built where the keep stood to be removed prior to the building of the keep but readers need to be aware of the difference between Clark's motte of rubble over the remains of the keep and any actual possible early motte.
Pevensey was, intermittently, garrisoned by 20-30 men during the C14 when there were fears of French raiding parties. In 1399 during the take over of rule by Henry Bolingbroke from Richard II the castle was besieged The constable John Pelham was loyal to Henry. He was away when local levies besieged the castle and his wife lead the defence. In John Goodall's recent guidebook a C14 manuscript illustration of a siege with scaling ladders and a trebuchet is shown next to the description of this event although a local levy would not have access to a trebuchet and Joan letter to her husband that she can 'no vitals get without much difficulty' suggests a relative low key event in that goods were actually obtainable, even if with difficulty. Both contemporary medieval writers and more recent authors have had a marked tendency to conflate siege warfare.