Photo of Pevensey Castle as it stands today ( Photo taken by Johan Jansen of SPI )

Pevensey Castle was originally known as Anderitum when it was first built around AD 290 when Britannia was still part of the Roman Empire . Wooden foundation piles have been dated from this period . At this time the south and east of Britannia were coming under heavy attack from marauding barbarian tribes namely Jutes and Saxons . The south and eastern seaboards of Britannia were collectively known as 'the Saxon Shore' and several large forts were built to defend it.

Probably built on the orders of Allectus, a follower of Carausius, a rebellious naval officer who proclaimed himself an independent emperor in the province of Britannia. Carausius was assassinated by Allectus in 293, and it wasn't until 296 that Rome regained control of Britannia when Constantine re invaded the country. So internal strife was a theme at Pevensey Castle from the beginning.

At the end of September 1066 William The Conqueror invaded England, landing with his army at Pevensey, and quickly threw up a defensive structure inside the fortifications he found at Pevensey. William then made for Hastings and dug in there while he waited to face Harold. In the years following the Conquest, a formidable stone castle was built by the Normans at Pevensey, much of which survives today.

This was to continue. The Norman incarnation of Pevensey Castle was built to offer protection from the native Britons following the 1066 invasion, but in 1088 a siege at Pevensey was the result of divisions amongst the Normans themselves. Bishop Odo of Bayeux held Pevensey during a struggle between the sons of William the Conqueror for the throne of Britain. Odo was supporting the unsuccessful attempt to replace William Refus as king with Duke Robert of Normandy. Similarly in 1147 Pevensey castle was used by the Earl of Pembroke in his unsuccessful rebellion against King Stephen. Then in 1264 supporters of King Henry The Third held out in Pevensey Castle following defeat by rebels led by Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes. They remained there until de Montfort's defeat at the Battle of Evesham in August the following year. Finally in1399 the Constable of Pevensey Castle, Sir John Pelham, joined Henry Bollingbroke in his ultimately successful rebellion against Richard the Second. While Sir John was away fighting alongside Henry, his wife, Lady Joan Pelham rallied the garrison at Pevensey Castle and managed to hold out against a prolonged siege by Richard the Second's troops.

Following a long and turbulent history, Pevensey Castle was left uninhabited by the 16th century, and fell into a ruinous state, despite a brief period where it was reinstated for defence purposes with the threat of the Spanish Armada. From that time, Pevensey Castle passed through a succession of owners until finally it came into the possession of the Duke of Devonshire who, in 1925, presented it to the State.

Then during 1940 when invasion by Germany seemed imminent gun emplacements and machine gun posts were built into the walls of the castle.