Castle Acre Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry footings remains

NameCastle Acre Castle
Alternative NamesCastelli Nostri de Acra
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishCastle Acre

The remains of Castle Acre Castle are located in the southern part of the modern village of Castle Acre, Norfolk. They include a roughly circular inner bailey with an adjoining outer bailey to the south east and a triangular barbican to the east. The inner bailey is surrounded by a ditch and an inner bank surmounted by a curtain wall, and contains the ruins of a large stone building. The outer bailey is also surrounded by a ditch, with internal banks on the east and west sides, and fragmentary remains of a wall crowning the banks and closing the southern end. The first stone building constructed in the centre of the inner bailey was a two-storey residential building, built between 1070 and 1085. Originally, it stood in the centre of a courtyard surrounded by a ditch and bank which survives as a buried feature beneath the later earthworks. In around 1140 the house was converted to a keep. The associated strengthening of the surrounding defences included the enlargement of the ditch, the raising of the bank and the construction of a curtain wall. A second period of development at the castle saw the area of the keep halved and the perimeter defences of the inner bailey strengthened yet again. The perimeter bank was heightened and on top of the existing curtain wall, was built a second curtain of solid flint. An eastern and western gatehouse provided entry to the outer bailey. The foundations of three buildings are located within the outer bailey and are thought to have been a great hall, detached kitchen and a chapel. The hall was thought to have replaced the house in the inner bailey, after its conversion to a keep. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries the castle continued to be an important administrative centre, but by 1397 it was derelict. The estate was eventually acquired by Sir Edward Coke in 1615, in whose family it remains. The castle was taken into state guardianship in 1929 and is currently opened to the public by English Heritage. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

This change of plan in the conversion of the keep was either for reasons of economy, or for the need to speed completion of the defences in troubled times, perhaps after the rebellion of the Earl of Essex in 1143.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceTF819151
Latitude52.7035484313965
Longitude0.690659999847412
Eastings581900
Northings315100
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Stuart All Rights Reserved
Copyright Stuart All Rights Reserved
Copyright Stuart All Rights Reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 68, 76, 107
  • Liddiard, Robert, 2005, 'The Castle Landscape of Anglo-Norman East Anglia: A Regional Perspective' in Harper-Bill, C. (ed), Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge, Boydell) p. 33-51
  • Cushion, B. and Davison, A., 2003, Earthworks of Norfolk (Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology 104) p. 165 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 48-51
  • Liddiard, R., 2000, Landscapes of Lordship (British Archaeological Reports British Series 309) p. 28-31, 44-74
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 156-7
  • Rogerson, Andrew, 1994, 'Castles' in Wade-Martins, P, (ed), An Historical Atlas of Norfolk (2edn Norwich; Norfolk Museums) p. 68-9
  • Margeson, S., Seiller, F. and Rogerson, A., 1994, The Normans in Norfolk (Norfolk Museums Service) p. 33-35
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 57, 58, 184, 187, 357
  • Thompson, M.W., 1991, The Rise of the Castle (Cambridge Univesity Press) p. 72
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1990, Medieval Fortifications (Leicester University Press) p. 49-51
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 73-5
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 306
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 203-4
  • Wilton, J.W., 1979, Earthworks and Fortifications of Norfolk (Weathercock Press) p. 19-20
  • Coad, J.G., 1977, 'Castle Acre: the castle' in Archaeological Excavations 1976 (HMSO) p. 28-9
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 86, 87
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1962, The Buildings of England: Norfolk: North-West and South (Penguin) p. 115
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 124-5 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Astley, 1908, Memorials of Old Norfolk (London) p. 86-94 (slight)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 293-6 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 220-1 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 284 online copy
  • Harrod, Henry, 1857, Gleanings among the Castles and Convents of Norfolk (Norwich) p. 97-106
  • Bloom, J.H., 1843, The Castle and Priory at Castle Acre (London: Pelham Richardson) p. 87-118
  • Blomefield, F., 1807, 'Freebridge Hundred and Half: Castleacre' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 8 p. 356-77 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 197
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 4 p. 2-4

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Portcullis - design and development' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 132-201
  • Morris, M., 2006, 'Walking history: Castle Acre Priory, castle and bailey gate' Heritage Today Vol. 75 p. 36-39
  • Liddiard, Robert, 2006, 'Early castles in the Medieval Landscape of East Anglia' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 243-50
  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
  • Quiney, Anthony, 1999, 'Hall or Chamber? That Is the Question. The Use of Rooms in Post-Conquest Houses' Architectural History Vol. 42 p. 24-46
  • Leagh, M., 1993, Excavations and Watching Brief at Castle Acre' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 41 p. 494-507
  • Thompson, M.W., 1992 Feb, 'Keep or Country House? Thin-walled Norman 'proto-keeps'' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 12 p. 13-22
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Coad, J.G., Streeten, A.D.F. and Warmington, R., 1987, 'Excavations at Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk, 1975–1982, The bridges, lime kilns, and eastern gatehouse' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 144 p. 256–307
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 308
  • Cherry, J., 1985, 'Castles of the Conqueror' British Museum Society Bulletin No. 49.
  • Coad, J.G., 1983, 'Recent work at Castle Acre Castle' Château Gaillard Vol. 11 p. 55–67
  • Coad, J.G. and Streeten, A.D.F., 1982, 'Excavations at Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk, 1972–77: country house and castle of the Norman earls of Surrey' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 139 p. 138–301
  • Coad, J.G., 1977, 'Excavation at Castle Acre, Norfolk, 1972-1976, An interim report' Château Gaillard Vol. 8 p. 79-86
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • 1935, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 40 p. 58-60
  • Astley, 1925, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 31 p. 141-9
  • Hartshorne, 1890, 'Castle Acre' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 47 p. 1-8 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Castle Acre' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 282-5 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 208 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1882, The Builder Vol. 43 p. 176, 185
  • Irving, G.V., 1858, 'on earthworks and other ancient fortifications in the county of Norfolk' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 14 p. 193-215 esp. 204-9 (plan and dubious discussion) online copy

Guide Books

  • Impey, E., 2008, Castle Acre priory and castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Coad, Jonathan, 1999, Castle Acre Castle and Priory (London: English Heritage)
  • Cocksedge, Helen, 1994, Castle Acre Priory and Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Coad, J.G., 1984. Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk (London: English Heritage) (reset reprint 1988)
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1978, Castle Rising (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 327-8
  • Dugdale, William (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 5 p. 12 (mention of Castelli Nostri de Acra in Lewes priory charter of 1088)
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 428 online copy