was a traditional sub-division of the county of Sussex
. Their origin is unknown, but they appear to predate the Norman Conquest
. The Victoria History of the County of Sussex
is organised by these divisions.
Each rape was split into several hundreds.
One suggested origin of the word is in the Icelandic
territorial division hreppr
, however this is rejected in the New English Dictionary. Another is from the Saxon rap
, a rope, since ropes were used to mark out territory.
By the time of the Domesday Book
, Sussex was divided into Arundel
rapes. Each was centred on a castle
, had a single sheriff
and ran as a strip, north-south, from the Surrey
border to the English Channel
. The castles of Arundel, Bramber and Lewes were sited on positions overlooking the rivers Arun
respectively, while those at Chichester, Hastings and Pevensey overlooked the coast. This formation was a creation of William I of England
, presumably designed to protect routes to Normandy