rundel Castle is located in West Sussex and is built on the site of an existing Saxon fortification. Arundel Castle was the work of the Norman Roger de Montgomery who was granted the land on the River Arun by William the Conqueror in 1067. Roger had the task of defending the southern coast from attack and this castle's lofty location was perfect for keeping watch over the river. He would have built a wooden motte and bailey type castle on a 90 foot high mound surrounded by a ditch. Unusually this castle has one motte and two baileys. The castle remained with the family of Roger until 1102 when forces under Henry I forced the surrender of Robert de Belleme the owner at the time. At this point the castle became a royal stronghold. The original wooden fortification by then had probably been replaced by stone. The circular keep was possibly begun by Robert de Belleme and finished by Henry I when he took control of the castle.

William de Albini (or Aubigny) became the owner of the castle and the first Earl of Arundel either having been granted it by Henry I or by the fact that he married Henry's widow Adeliza of Louvain, sources disagree. In the dispute between Matilda and King Stephen, William de Albini gave refuge to Matilda at the castle. When Matilda, Henry's daughter, arrived in England she sought the assistance of Adeliza her step-mother and Adeliza had agreed. Arundel Castle was besieged by King Stephen in reponse but the castle did not fall to the King and Matilda escaped. Several generations of Albinis owned Arundel Castle until Hugh, the last male heir, died. The castle became the property of John Fitzalan who married Hugh's daughter Isabel in 1243. At the end of the thirteenth century Richard Fitzalan began a phase of reconstruction work that included the barbican that adds protection to the Norman gatehouse. The Fitzalan family remained almost continually in posession of the castle until in 1555 Lady Mary Fitzalan married Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, and the Howard family became the owners of the castle.

During the English Civil War the castle was held by Royalist forces. The Parliamentarians under the command of William Waller besieged the castle from late 1643 until the spring of 1644. Cannons were used on the castle and did much damage. Over the centuries the castle's structure was changed and repaired so that the castle we see now is not an original Norman castle. But there are sections of the keep and gatehouse that retain earlier Norman work.


Arundel Castle Key Facts
CountyWest Sussex (5 castles)
DirectionsEleven miles to the east of Chichester on the A27.
CategoriesMotte & Bailey / Stone
RemainsExcellent remains
Access to siteOnly open at certain times


YearMonthEvent
1067   Arundel Castle granted to Roger de Montgomery
 William the Conqueror granted Arundel Castle to Roger de Montgomery.[1]

Episode: Norman Conquest  
1101   Arundel Castle siege
 After the castle falls to the besiegers, Arundel is passed to the ownership is passed to the King.[2] 
1129   Arundel Castle building work
 New construction work was done at Arundel between 1129 and 1130.[2] 
1138   Arundel Castle siege
 Matilda was given refuge by William de Albini at Arundel Castle. King Stephen built siege works around the castle in response but was unable to break the castle's defences. Matilda escaped but was later captured.[2]

Episode: Civil War Stephen and Matilda  
1176 - 1188 Construction work at Arundel
 More improvements were made to Arundel Castle between 1176 and 1188.[2] 
Early Modern Period (1500-1800)
1643 Dec 20  Arundel Castle Siege
 Parliamentarian cannons pound Arundel Castle where Royalist forces were un siege. William Waller controlled the attacking Parliamentarian army. 

Motte and Bailey Castles

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The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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