Archaeology South-East
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Hastings Castle and Ladies Parlour

Hastings Castle

Project type: Survey and Geomatics

Archaeology South-East was commissioned by Lord Cultural Resources, London, to perform a detailed topographical survey of Hastings castle and Ladies Parlour over an area of just under two hectares. The survey was undertaken over two periods from the 3rd to 7th of April and the 19th to the 24th of April 2006.

The survey area consists of two main areas; the Ladies Parlour and the Castle area. The Ladies Parlour in the NE of the site consists of a large bank and a flat area continuing south to the cliff edge. The SW edge of Ladies Parlour is bounded by outcropping sandstone and the castle ditch. The castle area, including the castle ditch, is located in the SW of the site, where there are a number of upstanding walls and structures associated with the castle. This area is bounded by the cliff edge on all sides except the NE side where it is bounded by the castle ditch.


The site was surveyed using Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) survey grade equipment typically working to +/-10mm positional accuracy and +/-20mm height accuracy, which was deemed to be the most suitable method for providing control for the survey. Leica System 1200 series DGPS units were configured as a reference station and a RTK rover; the reference station was set up over a station marker and remains static as it collects satellite data. The RTK rover, which is carried across the survey area acts as the survey data logger, also collects satellite data.


The topography of the site backs up an earlier interpretive possibility put forward in 1999 that the bank of the Ladies Parlour was constructed in part from the earth excavated when the castle ditch was created, forming a ‘ditch and bank' effect from the castle ditch and the Ladies Parlour bank.

The date of the cutting of the castle ditch is presumed to be medieval. The eastern curtain wall and gatehouse in its present form are likely to have been constructed in the 13th century as part of the Crowns building works in A.D.1225/6. It is likely that the castle ditch was cut at this period as such activity would fit with increasing the defensive capability of the castle, and would also increase the defensive capability of the Ladies Parlour by using the spoil to create a significant earthen rampart. Previous studies have been unable to provide a precise date for the rampart of Ladies Parlour but it is thought that it had been completed by the late 12th or early 13th century at the latest. This date would fit the above conclusion that the Ladies Parlour bank was created from the up-cast of the castle ditch.

It seems increasingly likely in the light of these results, that the earliest castle included the area of the Ladies Parlour within its defensive circuit and the interior raised precinct represents the original south eastern boundary of the first defensive circuit (although it should be borne in mind that the interior of the castle has had episodes of post-medieval landscaping).


Project Officer:
Darryl Palmer (with Rob Cole and Lesley Davidson)
Lord Cultural Resources
Project type: Survey and Geomatics



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Contour Plot of survey

Hacheur Plot of survey

Aerial photograph of survey area


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