Bungay Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBungay Castle
Alternative NamesBungeye; castellum de Buneie; Bungehia; Bungeia; Bungeie
Historic CountrySuffolk
Modern AuthoritySuffolk
1974 AuthoritySuffolk
Civil ParishBungay

Medieval castle and associated earthworks. The castle was built as a keep with two baileys in 1165 by the Earl of Norfolk. He rebelled against the King, and in 1174, after a short siege involving a mining assault to bring the keep down, was surrendered and the keep slighted. Licence to refortify the site was granted in 1294, the wreck of the early keep being surrounded by a wall with a twin tower gatehouse and a single tower. At this time the inner bailey was also walled. The castle was abandoned circa 1365. (PastScape)

Now almost a complete ruin, the remains of 2 circular towers still stand, with lower part with squared stonework. The ground plan was originally octagonal and the keep 54 ft square. Remains of walls are scattered about in flint rubble work, as are the various outer defences, earthworks, moats, etc. In 1140 Hugh Bigod, who had been created 1st Earl of Norfolk by Stephen, supported a rebellion against the King and was defeated at Bungay, and the Castle reduced. Re-instated, Hugh Bigod was again attacked, this time by Henry II on his accession to the throne, and was defeated and pardned on condition that the fortress was dismantled. This was carried out, and it remained uninhabitable, until 1281. Another Roger Bigod then obtained a licence to embattle his house, which stood on the old castle site. By 1312 the Castle had passed to Thomas de Brotherton in the reign of Edward II. In 1338, a daughter of Brotherton marrying Edward de Montacute the Castle passed into that family, and again changed ownership by marriage of his daughter to William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk. By 1382 an inquisition reports that the castle was old and ruinous. By 1477 the property had passed to the Howards and soon after was again consigned to neglect as a residence. From C16 onwards it changed hands from time to time as a ruined site until about the year 1800 it passed back to the then Earl of Norfolk. (PastScape–ref. listing report of 1949)

Gatehouse Comments

On high ground, virtually surrounded by the Waveney, a defence of more value when the flood plain was still marshy. Braun felt this was the site of a Norman motte and bailey of c. 1070. The Square Great Tower being built on the motte (which, if it existed, was either a low motte or levelled prior to building) seems to be securely dated to 1165. This tower was damaged in 1174 in a siege, the tunnel which undermined the tower still remains (However most of the damage done to the tower, now a mere foundation stump, was done in the C18). There may have been a period of abandonment. The twin drum towered gatehouse, although it has some early C13 features, does seem to date from the work associated with the 1294 licence. The gatehouse itself cannot have been the residence for Roger Bigod so, presumably, repairs were done to the Great Tower to make it inhabitable (c.f. Rochester Castle.

- 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 ReferenceTM335897
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Peggy All Rights Reserved
Copyright Peggy 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

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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 126, 128, 130, 208
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 311
  • 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
  • Wiggins, Kenneth, 2003, Siege Mines and Underground Warfare (Shire Archaeology) p. 13-14
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 72-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 232
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 63-4
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 456
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 196-7
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 122
  • Pevsner, N., 1961, Buildings of England: Suffolk (London, Penguin) p. 109-10
  • Mann, 1934, Old Bungay (London) p. 25-34 (histroy only)
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Wall, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Suffolk Vol. 1 p. 593-5 (plan) online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 272-4 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 189-95 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 404 online copy
  • Suckling, A., 1846, History and Antiquities of Suffolk (London) Vol. 1 p. 133-9 online transcription



  • Guy, Neil, et al, 2011-12, 'CSG Annual Conference April 2011' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 85-90
  • 2007, 'Archaeology in Suffolk 2006' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 41.3 p. 368 (slight) online copy
  • Liddiard, Robert, 2006, 'Early castles in the Medieval Landscape of East Anglia' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 243-50
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1984, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 241 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1983, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1982' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 204 download copy
  • 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)
  • Braun, H, 1937, Journal of the British Archaeological Association (ser3) Vol. 1 p. 157-67
  • Braun, H., and Dunning, G., 1936, 'Bungay Castle: Notes on 1936 excavations and on pottery from the mortar layer' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.3 p. 334-8 online copy
  • < >Braun, H, 1935, 'Bungay Castle, report on the excavations' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.2 p. 201-23 < > online copy
  • Braun, H., 1934, 'Some notes on Bungay Castle' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.1 p. 109-19 online copy [online copy > http://suffolkinstitute.pdfsrv.co.uk/customers/Suffolk%20Institute/2014/01/10/Volume%20XXII%20Part%201%20(1934)_Some%20notes%20on%20Bungay%20Castle%20H%20Braun_109%20to%20119.pdf]
  • Raven, J.J., 1890, 'Notes on recent excavations at Bungay Castle' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 7.2 p. 212-3 (poor) 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. 212 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1882, The Builder Vol. 43 p. 176, 186-7

Guide Books

  • Reeve, C., 2001, Bungay Castle Guide (Bungay Castle Trust)
  • Braun, Hugh, 1991, Bungay Castle Historical Notes and Account of the Excavations (Bungay Castle Trust) (Mainly a reprint of Braun's 1934 and 1935 articles)

Primary Sources

  • Luard, H.R (ed), 1865, 'Annales de Waverleia' in Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 2 p. 228 online copy
  • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 1 p. 48, 127 online copy
  • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1876, Radulfi de Diceto Decani Lundoniensis: Opera Historica (London, Rolls Series 68) Vol. 1 p. 404
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1292-1301) Vol. 3 p. 68 online copy
  • 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. 427 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 437


  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk East of England Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 72 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 75 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 74 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 81 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 73 online copy
  • Boulter, S. P., 2010, BUN 095, Bungay Castle Access, Archaeological Recording Report (Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service) online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 64 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 70 online copy