Thetford Red Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameThetford Red Castle
Alternative NamesRedcastle Furze
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishThetford

C12 ringwork situated on the south side of the Thetford-Brandon road, about 100m south of the Little Ouse River and overlooking the site of a medieval ford. The ringwork is a sub-circular earthwork with an overall diamter of 120m and is visible as a flat-topped mound with a broad, raised rim on the west and south east sides, encircled by a ditch which remains open to a depth of about 1.5m on the west side. Limited excavations carried out in 1957-8 demonstrated that the full depth of the ditch is approximately 3m, measured from the contemporary ground surface, and that it surrounds an inner bank about 2m in height and 12m wide at the base. The excavations also revealed some evidence for a timber palisade on top of the bank. Possibly constructed during the Anarchy, and to have remained in use for a relatively short period. If so, it was probably constructed by Earl Warenne who, after 1139, held the surrounding land to the south of the river. (PastScape)

It was investigated by G M Knocker for the Ministry of Works during the summers of 1957 and 1958. It was found to be built astride the line of the town ditch and spoil from the ringwork ditch had filled in an earlier ditch on the west side. It had covered a burial ground which probably dates from middle Saxon to the 12th century and 85 burials were excavated. These were inhumation burials and some were in sarcophagi made of chalk clunch and flints. Traces of a small church of early 11th century date were uncovered north of the burial ground. Groups of post holes and hearths, many Romano-British, Saxon, Thetford ware, St Neots ware and Stamford ware pottery sherds, iron nails, bone comb, prick spur, etc were found (PastScape ref. Knocker, 1967)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL860830
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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  • Cushion, B. and Davison, A., 2003, Earthworks of Norfolk (Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology 104) p. 180 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 70
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 163
  • Andrews, Phil, 1995, Excavations at Redcastle Furze, Thetford, 1988-9 (Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology 75)
  • 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. 32
  • Dallas, C., 1993, Excavations in Thetford by B.K. Davison between 1964 and 1970 (Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology 62) p. 206-7
  • Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C., 1984, Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80 (Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology 22) p. 62-3
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 309
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 305
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 322
  • Blomefield, Francis, 1805, 'Thetford, chapter 5: Of Thetford-Hill the situation of the city at that time, and of its first destruction by the Danes' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 2 p. 26-27 online transcription (of antiquarian interest only)
  • Marin, T., 1779, The History of the Town of Thetford in the Counties of of Norfolk and Suffolk from the earliest accounts to the present time (John Nichols) p. 9-10, 68 online copy


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Knocker, G.M., 1967, 'Excavations at Red Castle, Thetford' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 34 p. 119-186
  • Davison, 1967, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 11 p. 197 download copy
  • 1962-3, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 6-7 p. 322 download copy