The ruins of the medieval castle at Pevensey remain in one corner of a Roman fort, which was at one time a peninsula surrounded by the sea and salt marshes. The Roman fort, known as Anderida, was built in about 290 AD. Two thirds of its walls and towers still remain more or less at their original height. As most Roman forts were built to a customary rectangular plan, Anderida has an irregular oval design that follows the outline of the peninsular.
The ruins of the medieval castle.
Flash forward to 1066 when William, The Duke of Normandy, decided to land his army at Pevensey. First order of business was to set up a defensive camp inside the ancient fort before starting the march on to Hastings. After his victory at the infamous Battle of Hastings, William decided to turn over Pevensey to Robert Count of Moartain, his half-brother.
The castle expanded little by little over time, with stages of building peppered by periods of deterioration. The castle was rebuilt and remained inhabited well into the 15th century when it then functioned as a state prison.
The Pevensey Gun is a Tudor demi-culverin and has a royal cipher of Elizabeth I on top of the barrel. In 1966 the barrel was mounted on an accurate replica of a 16th trail carriage.
Pevensey’s tactical position was viewed as a potential landing point for foreign attackers. Despite the castle falling into ruin, it was still used to defend the country; a gun emplacement was constructed during the Spanish Armada in 1588.
During World War II billets for troops were established in the castle remains as well as machine gun posts. As France fell in 1940 there was a looming danger of Germany invading Britain’s shores. Pevensey was once again back to its function as protecting the British coast.
That same year, the castle went under re-fortifications and began to be used as a command and observation post. Canadian troops were quartered in the castle and the United States Army used it as a radio command centre in 1944.
The medieval castle towers were utilised for accommodations, parts of the keep were used for pillboxes where machine gun emplacements were set up, a new tower was built on the eastern wall and the southwest entry was secured by a blockhouse for anti-tank weapons.
All of the defences were never used during the Second World War as Pevensey Castle did not witness an attack, so the pillboxes are still visible to this day.
Pevensey Castle is located on the south coast of England, in East Sussex and owned by English Heritage.
Photo credit: howzey and Stephen Groves via photopin cc
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