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Ringmer; The Mount

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Clay Hill

In the civil parish of Ringmer.
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: TQ44901433
Latitude 50.91005° Longitude 0.05982°

Ringmer; The Mount has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The mutilated remains of a motte, overgrown with trees and scrub, and situated on a gentle N-facing slope. It measures c 40.0m in diameter and c 3.0m high above outside ground level, surrounded by a ditch, 7.0m across and about 1.5m deep, save on the N side where it is ploughed out. The ditch has been re-cut recently for drainage purposes. The summit is pock-marked by excavation trenches, wartime digging etc, giving the false impression of a bank around the S arc, and leading to the erroneous classification as a ringwork by King and Alcock. The alleged E entrance is probably a result of mutilations. Only about 9.0 m of the bank to the S of the motte remains, the rest having been ploughed out, so it cannot be determined whether this was a bailey. The farmer has not noticed unusual soil marks or crop growth, and no finds are known to have been made. (PastScape ref.–Field Investigators Comments–F1 NKB 10-JUL-72)

Despite the disturbance caused by excavation and wartime digging, the monument survives well and retains considerable archaeological potential. It is one of only a dozen known examples in the South-East.
The earthwork east of Clay Hill is a ringwork dating to the late Anglo- Saxon/early Norman period. The monument includes a ditch of varying depth and up to 7m across, the earth from which was used to create a mound some 2.5m high and 40m in diameter. The top of the mound was strengthened further by a 1.5m high bank around its edge, and in all likelihood by a wooden palisade. The small area within the bank provided the site for buildings and perhaps a watchtower. Access was gained through an entrance on the eastern side, represented by a 7m gap in the bank, beyond which the remains of a wooden bridge can be expected to survive. Small-scale excavations at the site in 1922 recovered Norman or early medieval pottery. A plan completed at the same time shows that the bank on the top of the mound was formerly continuous apart from at the entrance. It also demonstrates the existence of the ditch around the northern side of the mound. Wartime emplacements and more recent ploughing have partially obscured these features. (Scheduling Report)

The site was excavated by Dr R. Jones for the Sussex Archaeological Society around 2000. The excavation reports were, for a while, published online but seem now to have been removed. They may be available from The Sussex Archaeological Society. This is a somewhat enigmatic earthwork. It lies within the medieval deer parks of Plashett Park and Ringer Park, it not an obvious manorial centre and not strategical positioned. Dr Jones appears to have initially accepted this as an C12 adulterine castle but came the conclusion it was a hunting lodge and/or stand, presumably, of a somewhat later date.
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 09:19:31

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