Record Details

NHER Number:3449
Type of record:Monument
Name:Castle Acre Castle

Summary

The substantial ruins of a Norman castle, which were extensively excavated during the 1970s and 1980s. A Late Saxon hall with modest defences, which was held by a Saxon thegn called Toki, was replaced by a stone building after the Conquest when the castle was held by William of Warenne. This building was more like a country house than a castle, and was replaced by a keep in the 12th century, when the defences were also strengthened. The outer bailey was also replanned in the 12th century, and turned into a planned market town, which had a market place at Pale's Green. The castle became derelict later in the medieval period, probably by the 14th century.

Images

  • The ruins of the castle at Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The earthworks of medieval buildings in the bailey, Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The ruins of the keep at Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The earthwork defences around the keep, Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The ruins of the western gatehouse, Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The bailey at Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • The ruins of the keep, Castle Acre  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TF 8182 1505
Map Sheet:TF81NW
Parish:CASTLE ACRE, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

The Castle was founded and built by William de Warenne who was granted the land shortly after the Norman Conquest. The Norman country house was converted into a keep c. AD 1140 and later in the 12th century became a shell keep. The remains of a 12th century gatehouse survives to the west with evidence of the draw bar for securing the gates and the slot for the portcullis. The late 11th century and 12th century remains of the castle are surrounded by very impressive earthworks including a motte with its own ditch at the northern end, rectangular bailey surrounded by a bank and ditch and the remains of a barbican enclosure to the east. The bailey is surrounded by high earthen banks and the imprint of the hall is visible in the centre.
See (S1) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 15 June 2010.

Norman motte and bailey castle and town defences, wrongly called a Roman fort in the past.
Original site of priory in 1089.
Scheduled site enlarged 1998.

1780.
Well excavated.

1782.
Keys found.

1851.
Pottery found, thought to be Roman but is more probably Late Saxon or medieval.

1959. Stray Find.
Found inside castle bailey:
1 prehistoric fragmentary chipped flint axehead. Donated to Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1959.310). Information from (S12).
Although originally recorded as Neolithic this object was subsequently examined by R. Jacobi and re-identified as a Mesolithic tranchet adze. Information from (S13).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 7 August 2014.

1974 to 1982.
Full excavation of castle and trial trenches of town defences revealed a possible Late Saxon hall which was superceded by the castle.
The Hall stood on the motte, and was altered to form a rectangular keep but was never completed.
Motte was raised to form a shell keep.
Restoration in 17th century.
Finds included prehistoric sherds and flints, Roman, Middle Saxon and Late Saxon pottery as well as medieval.
Two limekilns excavated.
Post-medieval witchcraft deposit, with a human skull and the skeleton of a kitten.
See (S2) and (S3).

1985 to 1986.
Excavations outside east bailey by NAU.

1995.
Medieval sherd found.

1986.
Juvenile burial discovered by workmen digging post hole(s) within castle.
No details of location of find.
See report by [1] in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 19 July 1999.

January 2000. Earthwork Survey.
Earthwork survey at 1:1000.
See report (S4) for further details and plan. Site included in (S9) and survey also noted in (S14).
B. Cushion (NLA), 8 February 2000.

2000.
Additional earthwork features noted.

For full details, photos and press cuttings see report in file.
See also (S9).
E. Rose (NLA), 9 February 2000.

September 2001. Watching brief on route of BT cable.
Two areas of rammed chalk, thought to be the foundations of post medieval buildings.
Tile, clazed red earthernware and nail.
A. Hutcheson (NLA), 3 October 2001.

2002. Section 17 Management Agreement.
See copy in office file.
Concluded with English Heritage.
H. Paterson (A&E), 4 April 2002.

2002.
Extensive scrub clearance and removal of rubbish deposited over decades has been undertaken under a Section 17 agreement concluded between owners and English Heritage.
The wet bank and ditch has been cleared of scrub by hand cutting.
Selective tree surgery will be carried out on east side in December.
New fencing erected at end and alongside churchyard.
H. Paterson (A&E), 3 April 2002.

August 2002. Watching brief on erection of 5 new interpretation panels.
No significant archaeological remains.
H. Paterson (A&E), August 2002.

(S5) examines the historical context of the castle, concluding that it represents a remarkable continuity of high status settlement across the Conquest years, with the new stone castle built on the site of Toki's manor house.
D. Gurney (NLA), 14 May 2003.

November 2008. Watching Brief.
Five architectural fragments were recovered during repairs to a large erosion scar in the outer bailey mound. Four pieces were of Caen limestone and one was clunch. Tool marks are clearly visible on the Caen stone.
See (S6) for more details.
See also (S7).
See also (S8).

June 2009.
Five year Section 17 management agreement signed for town defences at Dyke Hills.
See (S10).
D. Robertson (HES), 25 September 2012.

Monument Types

  • INHUMATION (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HALL HOUSE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HEARTH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HEARTH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • LIME KILN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GROCERS SHOP (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • NAIL (Unknown date)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • TRANCHET AXEHEAD (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • COIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPOON (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BOOK FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CARVING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GAMING BOARD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GEMSTONE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KILN WASTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • QUERN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TUMBREL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • VESSEL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CEREMONIAL OBJECT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: see file.
---Unpublished Document: Paterson, H.. 2001. BT Works at Castle Acre 2001.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TF 8115AGF - AGG.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1997. TF 8115AGT.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 8115AGH - AGP.
---Scheduling Record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
---Unpublished Document: Paterson, H.. 2002. Watching Brief Report.
---Article in Serial: Cherry, J.. 1985. Castles of the Conqueror.. British Museum Society Bulletin. No 49.
---Newspaper Article: 1982. Eastern Daily Press. 23 March.
---Newspaper Article: 1985. Eastern Daily Press. 19 January.
---Newspaper Article: 1985. Eastern Daily Press. 21 January.
---Newspaper Article: 1985. Eastern Daily Press. 9 February.
---Newspaper Article: 1985. Eastern Daily Press. 13 February.
---Newspaper Article: 1986. Eastern Daily Press. 14 March.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. 28 February.
---Newspaper Article: 1999. Eastern Daily Press. 25 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. A reminder of our rich heritage. 20 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The second Norman invasion.. 28 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Explore west to find our treasure.. 1 November.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Castle Acre [3].
---Article in Serial: Sutermeister, H. 1972. Castle Acre. Norfolk Research Committee Newsletter and Bulletin. Series 2 No 9 p 15.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1991. NHER TF 8115/AEN/Z3 (EDWARDS), 10-DEC-1991.
---Photograph: CBY 23, 25. CBH 12, CBY 19-21. JM 3-6, CRL, CRM, FHW 32-36.
---Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 2000. Castle Acre Castle SMR 3449.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Heywood, S.. Castle Acre Castle, Bailey Street, Castle Acre, King's Lynn, Norfolk..
<S2>Article in Serial: Coad, J. and Streeten, A. D. F.. 1982. Excavations at Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk, 1972 to 1977: Country House and Castle of the Norman Earls of Surrey.. Archaelogical Journal. Vol 139, p 138ff. pp138-301.
<S3>Article in Serial: Coad, J., 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, pp 256-307. vol 144, pp 256-308.
<S5>Monograph: Liddiard, R.. 2000. Landscapes of lordship: Norman castles and the countryside in medieval Norfolk, 1066-1200.. pp 28-31, 44-45.
<S6>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hobbs, B. 2008. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Castle Acre Castle, Castle Acre, Norfolk. NAU Archaeology. 2007.
<S7>Slide: Various. Slide. 52-69.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D & Hoggett, R. 2009. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2008. Norfolk Archaeology. XLV Part IV pp 570-578. p 572.
<S9>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 165.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Norfolk County Council. 2009-2010. Norfolk Monuments Management Project Section 17 agreement.
<S11>Illustration: Unknown. Sketch plan of the Castle Acre site.. Film.
<S12>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Castle Acre.
<S13>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10178.
<S14>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 710.

Related records

43123Related to: Castle Acre planned town (Monument)

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