Excavations 1966 & 1967
The west wall of the gatehouse still stands to a height of 70 feet. The early Norman window can be seen halfway up.
W ILLIAM DE BRAOSE, one of William the Conqueror's barons was granted land in Sussex before 1086, which was known as the "Rape of William de Briouze" and from the late 12th century as the "Rape of Bramber". A rape is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'rope' and was used in Sussex to denote a sub-division of the county.
Bramber Castle is magnificently situated on a high knoll of chalk to the east of which is the River Adur which is tidal at this point. Before the embanking of the river in the 16th century the area was a tidal estuary. The castle itself consists of three main elements — a motte, a tower and a large outer ditch surmounted by a curtain wall. (There is also a 14th century building excavated in the 1920's and variously interpreted as a chapel or guardhouse). The main purpose of the excavations was to find out in what order the three main elements were erected. A series of trenches were dug around the base of the motte, one in 1966 by hand and 11 in 1967 by machine. This showed that the motte was partly surrounded by a quarry ditch 55 feet in width and between 12 and 15 feet in depth. The quarry ditch was irregular in profile but horseshoe in plan: it did not go the whole way round the motte, but left a gap at the NNE.
The top of the motte has yet to be excavated, but the motte evidently did not remain in use