Bricks and Mortar - Lewes Priory Mount

It is popularly known as ‘The Mound’ but on official maps it is referred to as Lewes Priory Mount. Every Easter Friday a 20ft wooden cross is placed on the top of it. The view from the summit is one of the best in Lewes. But what is it? Who made it? And why? Nobody seems to know. I’ve heard theories. The most common one, that it was a Victorian folly, is impossible, as the Mound appears on 18th century maps. Another popular theory is that the Mound is a spoil heap from the digging of the Dripping Pan, created while it was being hollowed out for use as a saltpan, or a man-made fishpond. Some suggest it was built by the Saxons as a vantage point, so the townspeople might be forewarned of enemies or flooding; others see it as a (very small) Norman motte and bailey fortress. My favourite theory is that, as both sunset and sunrise can be seen from the summit on the longest and shortest days of the year, it was once a pagan site of some importance. Unless it is excavated, we will never know the answer: no bad thing perhaps. Much of this grassy landmark’s charm lies in the mystery surrounding it.

In 1983 The Mound made the front page of the Evening Argus when the people of Lewes woke up on Easter Saturday morning to find that the Easter cross had been turned upside down. The paper suggested that a Black Magic circle was responsible: it turned out to be a prank by that bunch of politically motivated hoodlums, the Lewes Rebel Army. AL

Priory Mound: Pagan ley-line or Norman motte-and-bailey fort?