Caister Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCaister Castle
Alternative NamesCaistor
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishWest Caister

Caister Castle was built for Sir John Fastolf from 1432 to circa 1446. It was a brick building rectangular in plan, with angle towers. There are three gunports in the north-west tower and several gunports in the curtain wall. The principal remains of the castle are the north-western angle tower of the main building and the north and west adjoining curtain walls. The surrounding moat has been partially filled in. The internal building remains of the main castle block have been determined by the sinking of trail holes by Mr Hamblen-Thomas. The north east outwork of the castle is thought to be older than the main block. It is the only English example of a 'Wasserburg', a water-ringed castle common in the Rhineland and Flanders, and it was one of the first major brick built buildings in England. (PastScape)

Earthworks, parchmarks and standing walls associated with Caister Castle are visible on aerial photographs. The castle is centred on TG 5048 1229. The castle moat is rectangular in plan and is largely extant and water filled. It has external dimensions of 122m by 78m and is up to 18m wide. Two spurs from the main moat divide the inner court in the southwest from an outer courtyard to the northeast. These are not extant and are visible on aerial photographs as shallow earthworks and cropmarks. A parchmark crossing between these two infilled spurs appears to mark the position of a bridge or causeway. This parchmark continues along the northeast side of these sections of former moat indicting the presence of a track or road within the courtyard. Positive cropmarks cutting across the area of the bridge or causeway may represent drains leading into the moat. A single linear parchmark, probably marking the position of a wall is present in the eastern part of the outer courtyard. It extends for 11m on a northwest to southeast alignment parallel to the outer wall of the courtyard and may be part of a lean-to type structure

Extant remains of walls are clearly visible around the inner courtyard of the castle. These are the exterior walls of a range of buildings that surrounded the courtyard. Two square parchmarks, representing buried walls, are present either side of the causeway or bridge leading to the outer courtyard. (Norfolk HER–J. Albone, 13 June 2005)

Eastern, or outer court, late C14 or early C15. Western, or inner, court 1432-43 (when licence to fortify granted). Built for Sir John Fastolfe by William Granour "Master of the new work". Last buildings roofed and tiled 1468 when in possession of Sir John Paston. Brick with ashlar dressings. Full building accounts survive 1432-35. Both courts surrounded by moat with spur of moat separating them. (Listing report)

Gatehouse Comments

It is difficult to know what the listing report means by a 'licence to fortify'. No licence to crenellate is in either the Patent or Charter Roll calendars. In 1443 Falstolf is granted for life a number of ships to transport food and building materials for his, unidentified, house which might be Caister or possibly Rye House on the navigable River Lee (CPR p. 206). Otherwise this seems to be a gross misreading of the licence granted to Rye House. Blomefield also states a licence was given although he gives no details beyond "King Henry V. gave license to build it as strong as himself should devise." Besieged in 1469.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTG504122
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 284 online copy
  • Turner, Dawson, 1842, Sketch of the History of Caister Castle (London)
  • Blomefield, F., 1810, 'East Flegg hundred: Castor' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 11 p. 201-16 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 4 p. 10-15


  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 320
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 215-6
  • Slade, H.G., 1980, 'Caister Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 295-8
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1977, 'Early Gunports' Fort Vol. 4 p. 76
  • Barnes, H.D. and Simpson, W.Douglas, 1952, 'Caister Castle' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 32 p. 35-51
  • Barnes, H.D. and Simpson, W.Douglas, 1947-52, 'The Building Accounts of Caister Castle' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 30 p. 178-88
  • Floyer, J.K., 1913, 'English Brick Buildings of the Fifteenth Century' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 70 p. 121-32 online copy
  • Barrett, 1896, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 2 p. 37-47 online copy
  • Haddon, 1880, 'Caister Castle' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 36 p. 22-6 (slight) online copy
  • Pettigrew, T.J., 1858, 'Caister Castle' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 14 p. 223-37 online copy
  • 1848, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 2 p. 365-9 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1908, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry VI (1441-46) Vol. 4 p. 206 online copy