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Owls, Rusper

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Castle; Owlscastle Farm; Hawkesbourne Farm; Kingsfold; Kyngesfold

In the civil parish of Rusper.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of West Sussex.
1974 county of West Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Bramber).

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ19743412
Latitude 51.09390° Longitude -0.29147°

Owls, Rusper has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Moat and small square earthwork. Probably the site of an Adulterine castle. (PastScape)
Near Horsehead Gill, at the foot of Hurst Hill the Ordnance Map shows a small square earthwork enclosure called "The Castle", and the remains of a moat. Nothing appears to be known of any fortification here. and it is probably the site of a small moated house (SAC 1902).
A sub-rectangular earthwork with a V-shaped ditch and strong inner earthen rampart which rises to a maximum height of 1.4m above the interior. The original entrance is probably a break midway in the S side. There are a number of minor mutilations in the rampart with two major breaks at the centre of the N side and at the SE corner, but there is no evidence to show if these are original or not. The work is situated upon a gentle southerly wooded slope above a stream. Not a homestead moat, this earthwork is probably an adulterine castle site. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 ASP 05-APR-67)

The moated site 500m ESE of Hawkesbourne Farm survives well with the interior of the island largely undisturbed by later activity. The large internal earthen banks are an unusual feature for a moated site in south-east England. The monument contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the economy of the site and the landscape in which it was constructed.
The monument includes a rectangular moated site situated adjacent to Channells Brook on a gentle south-facing slope. The site has a rectangular island measuring 72m north-south by 48m east-west with an internal earthwork bank on all four sides. The bank is c.1.5m high and c.7m wide around most of the island, with an entrance in the eastern end of the south side. In the south-eastern corner the bank survives to a height of 2.2m. The moat surrounding the island is now dry but was originally waterfilled. It was fed via a leat which ran into the north-western corner of the moat from a stream to the west and then out in the south-western corner. The ditch, although having become partially infilled over the years, measures up to 10m wide and 2m deep. (Scheduling Report)

From the Records we gather that the family of Kingsfold occupied the chief position in the parish in the 13th and 14th centuries. Their residence seems to have been, where the remains of a moat may still be traced, about a quarter of a mile east of the present road from Rusper to Horsham. (Elwas)

Possibly more than a homestead moat but seems unlikely this was a castle site. Seems to have built on the edge of the parish of Rusper but the nature of the medieval manor to which it was related is unclear. The suggestion made by the field investigator in 1967 that this was an 'adulterine' castle seems to be unsupported by evidence other than the received wisdom of 1960s. Despite their being a full and modern VCH entry for Rusper (Hudson, T.P. (ed), 1987, VCH Sussex Vol. 6.3 p. 109-19) Gatehouse is unable to identify a tenurial history for the site. The VCH identifies the manor house of the Kingsfold's as the Moat Copse moated site at TQ174370 (Hudson, T.P. (ed), 1986, VCH Sussex Vol. 6.2 p. 207-).
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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