Record Details

NHER Number:30
Type of record:Monument
Name:Castle Keep, Norwich Castle


William Fitzobern built the Castle Keep around 1120 on the site of the earlier timber and earth motte and bailey. It stands to the southwest of the original Castle motte and was built in at least two stages using some imported French stone. Since its construction it has been subject to numerous repairs and modifications. This is evidenced by the fact that much of the current façade is of 19th century date and intended to closely replicate the Norman stonework. Investigations here since the 1960s have recovered several small finds including a specimen of Caen stone, medieval and later pottery sherds and animal bones. This work has also established that the building was carefully laid out to a preconceived plan with internal space divided coherently and more recently has recorded the form and details of The Great Arch in the Bigod Tower.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23160 08504
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Built by William Fitzobern in about 1067 AD on site of ninety-eight Late Saxon houses.

1967. Specimen of Caen stone found while Rotunda being built.

1971. Historical survey and general description.
See (S1).
S. Howard (HES), 28 October 2011.

1972. Medieval and later pottery and animal bones from trenches below floor of keep basement. Wall footings identified.
1975. Trenches through dungeon onto entrance door. Much medieval/post medieval material.
1986. Excavation and survey by NAU, part of survey of keep by [1]. Uncovered evidence of earlier plan of building.
Late 11th century deposits located. Evidence of rebuilding of north wall.

April 1997 to July 1998. Recording of the exterior stonework of the keep.
A photogrammetric survey of the exterior of the keep was used as the basis for this work. Detailed examination of the stonework, mostly dating from the complete refacing carried out in the 1820s and 1830s, allowed the decorative mock joints incised by the 19th century stonemasons to be differentiated from the 'true' joints that divided the different blocks of stone. The different types of stone used on the exterior of the keep were identified, and surviving elements of the Norman keep were recorded. These included a large corbel drain support reused in the south face, a Caen stone arch at the base of the north side of the Bigod tower and three separate areas of Caen stone, both reused and in situ, on the east face. Further surviving Caen stone was located behind the Bath stone façade in the window reveals of the west face. The Norman chimney flue systems on the central buttress of the south face and on the north east corner buttress were examined.
See (S2) for further details.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 25 May 2007.

See notes, elevations, references and schedule in file and further details under NHER 429 (whole castle).
Material from 1986 excavation held by NCM.
For discussion of similarity of architecture to that of the cathedral see reference (S3).

2000. Building survey.
The Great Arch in the Bigod Tower was recorded during cleaning and conservation.
Detailed drawings were made of the voussoirs, imports and four carved capitals within the keep itself.
See (S4) for further details.
See also (S6).
D. Gurney (NLA), 19 April 2001.

A small-scale research project took advantage of the emptying of the Keep during the museum redevelopment. A photogrammetric record of all the internal keep elevations was produced, and these were then enhanced to show architectural elements, features and phasing. These annotated CAD elevation are intended to act as an aid for future interpretation.
See (S8).
D. Holburn (HES), 14 November 2011.

2008. Norwich HEART (S5-6)
Described as architecturally the most ambitious secular Norman building in Europe
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 January 2009.

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SHACKLE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: GYA, GYB, GYC, ERE, CWE-CWR.
---Graphic Material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
---Publication: Heslop, T. 1994. Norwich Castle Keep.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996-2000. Articles on Norwich Castle Keep.
---Article in Serial: 1892. Norfolk and Norwich Archaeolgical Society. Report for 1889. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XI pp i-v. pp iii-iv.
---Unpublished Contractor Report: Drury, P. J. 1984. Norwich Castle Keep. A Preliminary Report on the Evolution of the Fabric and the Internal Planning of the Building. Chelmsford Archaeological Trust.
---Serial: Ayers, B.. Norwich Castle Keep, NARG News..
---Article in Serial: Green, B. 1980. Norwich Castle. Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 358-359.
---Article in Serial: Whitingham, A. 1980. Note on Norwich Castle. Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 359-360.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Article in Serial: Shepard Popescu, E. 2004. Norwich Castle. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XLVIII pp 209-219.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Unpublished Report: Drury, P. J., Heslop, T. A. and Ayer, B. S. 1992. Norwich Castle Keep.
<S1>Archive: NIAS. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Records.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Faulkner, P. A. 1971. Report on Norwich Castle Keep. Department of the Environment.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Whitmore, M. 2000. Norwich Castle Keep: recording of exterior stonework, 1997-98. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 443.
<S3>Article in Monograph: Thurlby, M. 1996. The Influence of the Cathedral on Romanesque Architecture. Norwich Cathedral: Church, City and Diocese, 1096-1996. Atherton, I. et al (eds). pp 136-157. pp 150-152.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Moss, N. and Wallis, H. 2001. Recording of the masonry of The Great Arch in the Bigod Tower, and other decorative features within Norwich Castle. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 590.
<S5>Monograph: Sheehan, B.. 2008. Norwich 12: A journey through the English city..
<S6>Projected and Video Material: Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART). 2008. Norwich 12. A journey through the English city.. DVD.
<S7>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2002. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2001. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt I pp 162-177. p 170.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2001. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 2000. Norfolk Archaeology. XLIII Pt IV pp 707-728. p 720.

Related records

Mon 539Parent of: Castle Motte Ditch (Ditch 10) (Monument)
Mon 569Parent of: Norwich Castle (Monument)
Site 1773Parent of: Norwich Castle Keep (Monument)
Site 1775Parent of: Norwich Castle Keep (Monument)
429Part of: Norwich Castle, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery (Monument)
MNO8645Related to: Bridge over Castle moat, 2 entrance lodges, cast iron gates & railings NORWICH (Revoked)
MNO8640Related to: The Castle Mound NORWICH (Revoked)

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