Arundel Castle, Arundel, Sussex

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Feature Sets (3)


The motte and bailey castle built at Arundel by Roger of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, in the late 11thc., would have contained mainly wooden structures, although the stone gatehouse is believed to date from that period. In the second half of the 12thc. (c.1170-1190) the circular shell keep was erected, the curtain walls were strengthened and the domestic quarters extended. The castle was ruined during the Civil War, and was largely rebuilt in the late 19thc. (C A Buckler; 1890-1903). This work included the neo-Norman Postern Gate.

The doorway of the keep dates from the second quarter of the 12thc., and the surviving S window of the hall from the late 12thc. A beakhead fragment recorded some years ago is now lost. However, a number of carvings, including a second beakhead voussoir, were discovered during an extensive restoration of the castle in 1976-78. These are now displayed in the Fitzalan Chapel. In addition, a carved voussoir is set in the restored face of the E curtain wall.


The founder of Arundel Castle, Roger de Montgomery (d.1094), had remained in Normandy as Regent during the invasion of England, and was rewarded with the Honour of Arundel, including the rapes of Chichester and Arundel. He built a motte and bailey castle, which would, initially, have carried wooden fortifications. The stone gatehouse is thought to date from the late 11thc., but the circular keep, the great hall - and probably many other buildings which are now lost - were erected in the late 12thc. These would have been built by the d'Aubigny family which held Arundel fromc.1138 to 1243. The d'Aubignys were succeeded by the Fitzalans.


Exterior Features


Keep, S side

This blocked doorway is round-headed and of three continuous orders. The doorway has evidently been restored. The original stone is very shelly limestone, the same as that used for the S transept doorway of New Shoreham.

approx h. of opening 3.26 m
w. of opening 2.04 m
First order:

The soffit has a quirk between two angle rolls. The face is carved with lateral chevron, of the profile: roll, hollow, roll. The order appears to be complete but the keystone may have been replaced.

Second order:

This order has a continuous angle roll, and a quirk on the face. Five plain, uncarved voussoirs are incorporated, off-centre to the W.

Third order:

This order has an angle roll and, on the face, quartered squares (saltire crosses), with a pellet or bead in each quarter. Most of the arch has been replaced with plain blocks.


Great Hall, S side

This blocked window comprises two lights under a relieving arch, joined by paired columns. The double capital is carved with flat pointed leaves, while the single capitals on the jambs are waterleaf. The traces of a second such window (part of the arch and label) survive to the W.

Exterior Decoration



E Curtain wall, outer face, third bay to S of postern. Set in the wall is a voussoir carved with two schematic faces, one of which is upside down. Both comprise a pair of almond-shaped eyes with drilled pupils, a simple nose and mouth, and a furrowed brow. It is too high to be measured easily.

Loose Sculpture

Beakhead voussoir

The voussoir was found in Tiltyard, probably c.1976-78. The head has a beak, tongue, bulging eyes and ears.


d. 0.17 m
h. 0.23 m
w. 0.16 m

Beakhead voussoir

The head has a beak, which grasps a plain roll, bulging eyes with drilled pupils, a small nose with drilled nostrils, and pointed ears. An inverted five-lobed leaf fills the space between its brows and ears. Above that is a band of hollow triangles filled alternately with pellets and pyramids. This beakhead has gone missing since it was photographed for the Conway Library (A79/6033).


The central part of a double waterleaf capital found during repairs, 1976-78. It has an integral abacus. In the centre of each face is a group of fluted leaves. Probably from a hall window (see III.2.i, above)


d. 0.18 m
h. 0.235 m
w. 0.26 m

Fragment with billet moulding

The fragment is carved with billet to either side of a central roll; the mouldings form a 90 degree angle. Possibly neo-Norman.


h. 0.215m
l. 0.21 m
w. 0.14 m


A voussoir carved with a row of hollowed four-petal flowers overlapping circles.


d. 0.20 m
h. 0.105 m
w. 0.23 m


A tangential voussoir (?) with three chamfered, carved faces. The widest face is carved with a simple but irregular zig-zag moulding, the central face with pellet and the third with sawtooth. Probably found in 1976-78; possibly neo-Norman.


d. 0.22 m
h. 0.145 m
w. 0.21 m


A voussoir carved with one and a half units of lateral face chevron, composed of one roll and a quirk. Found in 1976-78.


d. 0.23 m
h. 0.205 m
w. 0.175 m


Fragments from the restoration programme ofc.1900 are now in the garden of Dragon House, Lyminster. Some other fragments are either loose or built into a wall in William Booker's Yard, Walberton. None of that material appears to be original 12thc. sculpture. Two pieces recorded here may be neo-Norman (ie: VI.iii and VI.vi).


  • Country Life, 19 December 1914, 818.

  • F. Steer, 'Arundel Castle and its Owners 1067-1660', The Connoisseur. March 1978, 155ff.

  • I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth 1965, 91-93.

Keep entrance from S
Keep, distant view from SW
Keep, distant view
South bailey, E range from keep
S bailey, S range, W section from S


Site Location
Arundel Castle, Arundel
National Grid Reference
TQ 018 073 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Sussex
now: West Sussex
medieval: Chichester
now: Chichester
Type of building/monument
Report authors
Kathryn Morrison 
Visit Date
21 September 1999, 19 September 2014