Record Details

NHER Number:429
Type of record:Monument
Name:Norwich Castle, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Summary

This was the only castle built by William the Conqueror in East Anglia. It consisted of a great motte and two baileys occupying some 10 hectares. Construction was probably initiated before the end of the 1060s as an earthwork and timber fortification. The motte was extended and the square keep or donjon constructed around 1095-1110 to serve as a Royal Palace. The building utilised Caen stone with considerable external decoration over a flint core. The building was entered at first floor level through an external structure, the Bigod Tower (this latter partially demolished in the early 19th century). The Keep lost most of its internal partition walls in the 18th century but substantial elements of the Romanesque structure survive, including a very fine doorway with decorative sculptural detail, other sculpture on the chapel and features such as a kitchen and very early wall fireplace. The exterior face of the Keep is a refacing of 1835-8 by A. Salvin. The Norman bridge over the inner ditch is probably contemporary with the Keep, excavation having revealed that it is largely intact with refacing and the addition of a vaulted central section in the 1820s. The baileys transferred to the City in 1345 and were subsequently used as a Cattle Market. Substantial remodelling for this market in 1738 and again in 1862 removed the visible earthworks, traces of which were recovered by excavation in 1989-91, together with the massive ditches. The Keep was used as a gaol from 1220, with additional buildings constructed on the top of the motte. These buildings were demolished and rebuilt in 1789-93 with more alterations occurring in 1820. The site ceased to be used as a gaol in 1887 when it was purchased by the city to be used as a museum. The museum opened in 1894 and is still in operation. The area of the south bailey has been developed for a shopping centre beneath an urban park while the site of the north-east bailey is largely occupied by a bank, hotel, the Agricultural Hall and offices.

Images

  • Norwich Castle.  © Courtesy of Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service.

Location

Grid Reference:TG 23226 08457
Map Sheet:TG20NW
Parish:NORWICH, NORWICH, NORFOLK

Full description

Castle precinct includes NHER 30, 31, 32, 33, 135, 263, 434, 595, 673 and 26141.

Keep, bridge and gate towers, castle motte and bailey built around 1067 by William Fitzobern on site of 98 Late Saxon houses.
Stone keep built around 1120-30 ('largest keep in England', Braun 1936).
Gate houses with drum towers and curtain wall with towers replaced stockades in 13th century.
1193 Pipe Roll gives total garrison as seventy-five knights and men at arms both horse and foot.

Contemporary sources (some).
William de Poitou (1035-67) Gesta Willemi.
Odoricus Vitalis (1075-1141) Hist Ecclesiastica.
William de Jumieyers, around 1137.
Domesday Book 1086.
Pipe Rolls from 2 Henry II 1155.
Close Rolls from 8 Henry III 1224.
Henry Knighton, around 1380-1400.
Alexander Nantle, Norvicus, 1575.

Castle Mound gardens graded two-star by Historic Gardens Survey. In existence by 1780s, were drawing fashionable visitors away from Chapelfields by 1810s, altered 1880s and truncated 1920s. Steps are lined with kiln reject bricks. Spanish steps on west removed in 2001.
See Survey for details.

1824. Stray Find.
Found by workman digging trench "…in one of the radiating wings of the new County Gaol, on the Castle Hill…":
Gold finger ring "…of the plainest workmanship…".
Several fragments of human bone were also discovered nearby.
See transcription (S27) of newspaper article (S28) for further details.
It has been suggested that this may be the unprovenanced gold ring from Norwich now held by the British Museum (see NHER 1) but this object does not match the recorded description of the castle find.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 5 December 2017.

1888. Human skeletal remains from trial hole on mound. Held by NCM, from Norwich Corporation.

1890s. Medieval gaming board found. (Context 2)

1906. Section cut into east side motte - see NHER 135.

1911. Human skeleton in stone coffin found in roadway outside Plough Inn (now La Rouen) Golden Ball Street. See reference (S1) in file. (Context 3).

1986. Excavations within Castle Keep
See S4.

1989-91. Major excavations in the south bailey (see NHER 777).
See also (S5).

1990 Excavation and survey of Castle Bridge.
See (S6).

April-May 1991. Watching Brief.
Observation of trench behind Agricultural Hall - negative. (Context 4).
No report produced. See notes (S29) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 20 February 2017.

February-April 1995. Watching Brief (Context 5).
Work during repair of iron railings round mound showed that these are mid 19th-century, cutting 19th- and 17th-century deposits.
See report (S25) and notes (S26) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S22).
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2018.198).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 25 January 2017 and 27 April 2019.

1997. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of tree planting in Shirehall plain (Context 6).
This work recovered a single medieval stone fragment.
See report (S23) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S24).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 8 February 2017.

November 1998. Borehole Survey.
Geotechnical survey.
Eight boreholes excavated, two within Castle Gardens, one through mound south of keep and five to west of Shirehall Chambers.
See borehole logs (S30) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 5 December 2017.

1998. Trial Trenching.
Excavation revealed Late Saxon pits, medieval or post-medieval features. Contexts 8-317? Used.
See report (S7) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S19).

1999-2000. Excavation.
During redevelopment works at Norwich Castle Museum a section through the eastern side of the motte was recorded. This revealed details of its construction and of an encircling ditch.
See assessment report (S20) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S19).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2016.439).
D. Holburn (HES), 21 November 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 27 April 2019.

2000.
Wooden door, dated to 13th century by dendrochronology, and located on its doorpins at principal floor level in SW stair of the Keep (where stair joins passageway to the Great Chamber) removed and mounted on wall face at east end of same passageway (facing east).
See file for further details.
See also (S18).
E. Rose (NLA), 26 January 1999.

2001. Watching Brief.
Following excavations for Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service in 1999-2000, a watching brief recorded further details.
The results of this work are summarised in (S17).
D. Holburn (HES), 21 October 2011.

Assessment of architecture of Keep in (S2) and (S3).

2007.
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the installation of a 'Totem' style interpretive board, and a topographical and arboriculture survey.
See (S8) for further details
H. White (NLA), 2 April 2009

18 August 2008.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the removal and replacement of delaminated stonework, pointing of flint rubble walling and replacement of missing bricks.
See (S9) for further information
H. White (NLA), 8 January 2009

February 2009. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of repair works. Contexts 2100-2122 used.
The most significant finding was undisturbed natural sand and gravel at the base of the mound, thought to be part of the topographic feature upon which the castle was constructed. Finds recovered included Late Saxon, medieval and post medieval pottery sherds, a piece of medieval brick and fragments of clay tobacco pipe.
See report (S10) for further information.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 9 July 2009.

March 2009.
Emergency work to repair a broken sewer involved excavating part of the wall at the bottom of the Castle mound.
See (S11) for further details,
H. White, (NLA), 9 October 2009

27 March 2009.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning proposed erosion repair and control system, and repairs to the bridge abutment.
See (S12) for further details
H. White (NLA), 29 April 2009

August 2009.
See (S13) for details of a Victorian photograph of the site.
H. White (NLA), 1 September 2009.

November-December 2009. Watching Brief.
In winter 2009 during stabilisation works at Norwich Castle Mound no remains were revealed due to the shallow nature of the works. Two sherds of late post-medieval pottery from the topsoil were the only artefacts to be recovered.
See report (S15) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 4 August 2010.

July 2010. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with installation of CCTV posts around Castle perimeter.
Two sections of wall were exposed during the works of a similar construction to each and also similar to that described by Shelley (S6) and are probably boundary walls of 19th century date.
See report (S16) for further details.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.280).
S. Howard (HES), 28 February 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 May 2019.

March 2011. Watching Brief.
Details awaited.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.500).
P. Watkins (HES), 6 February 2017. Amended 16 May 2019.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PRISON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • DIE STAMP (Unknown to 19th Century)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GAMING BOARD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG2308 AXF,AXG,AXK,AXL.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF481.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1993. TG 2303BEQ - BET, BEV - BFC.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 2308BFD, BFH - BFK, BDQ.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 2308BFL - BFS.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 2208ADJ - ADK; TG 2308BFT - BFV; TG 2208ADT - ADV; TG 2208ADX, AEA, AEE.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 2308BDY - BEA.
---Map: Location maps of Norwich Castle.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. Fresh view of castle's underground secrets. 11 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. What did the Normans ever do for us?. 2 February.
---Photograph: Adams, D.. 2009. PAX-PAY.
---Unpublished Document: Williams, T. P.. 1998. Changing views on the origins and early history of Norwich Castle.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Alarm over state of heritage jewels. 14 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Decay in this fine old city is the 'elephant in the room'. 11 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The Norwich 12. 2 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Why Norwich is world class. 17 March.
---Unpublished Document: Heywood, S. The Castle, Norwich [fragment of larger document].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Wander your way through 1,000 years of city history. 24 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The second Norman invasion. 28 July.
---Slide: D. Adams (RAF). 2009. Slides 730-744, Castle Mount Watching Brief..
---Slide: Phelps, A. & Sillwood. R.. 2010. Slides 1-25, Norwich Castle Mound, CCTV Columns..
---Photograph: Phelps, A. & Sillwood, R.. 2010. PPQ.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Castle is under threat from marauding pigeons. 20 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Ancient items to be seen digitally. 12 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Special event carry on long into the night. 5 July.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Article in Serial: Hotblack, J. T. 1907. Norwich Castle Mound. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society. Vol VIII Pt III (for 1906-1907) pp 338-340.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992-2001. [Articles on the proposed and funded work at Norwich Castle Museum].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Dig uncovers materials which predate castle. 9 November.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Article in Monograph: Popescu, E. 2016. Norwich Castle. Castles and the Anglo-Norman World. Proceedings of a Conference held at Norwich Castle in 2012. Davies, J. et al (eds). pp 3-30.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF481.
<S1>Article in Serial: 1911. Skeleton unearthed at Norwich. Fisher's Norwich Almanac. p 10.
<S2>Monograph: Heslop, T.A.. 1994. Norwich Castle Keep.
<S3>Article in Serial: Drury, P.. 2002. Norwich Castle Keep.. British Archaeological Reports International Series. Vol 1088.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Ayers, B.. 1986. Draft Report of Excavations within the Castle Keep, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit Short Reports.
<S5>Monograph: Ayers, B. S., Bown, J. and Reeve, J. 1992. Digging Ditches: Archaeology and Development in Norwich.
<S6>Article in Serial: Shelley, A.. 1996. Norwich Castle Bridge. Medieval Archaeology. LX.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1999. An evaluation excavation at Norwich Castle. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 367.
<S8>Designation: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S9>Designation: DCMS. 2008. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Adams, D. 2009. An Archaeological Watching Brief at The Castle Mound, Norwich, Norfolk. NAU Archaeology. 2089b.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Work to repair broken sewer in Castle Mound. 2 March 2 March.
<S12>Designation: DCMS. 2009. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S13>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Fabulous record of Norfolk's Victorian splendor. 22 August.
<S15>Unpublished Contractor Report: Adams, D. 2010. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Stablisation Works at Norwich Castle Mound. NAU Archaeology. 2222.
<S16>Unpublished Contractor Report: Sillwood, R. 2010. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Norwich Castle Mound, CCTV Columns. NAU Archaeology. 2379.
<S17>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.
<S18>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 719.
<S19>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1999. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1998. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 369-387. p 380.
<S20>Unpublished Contractor Report: Wallis, H. 2002. Norwich Castle Redevelopment. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 755.
<S21>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2000. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1999. Norfolk Archaeology. XLIII Pt III pp 521-543. p 532.
<S22>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 405.
<S23>Unpublished Contractor Report: Percival, J. 1997. Results of a Watching Brief at Shirehall Plain, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 217.
<S24>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1998. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1997. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt I pp 193-210. p 204.
<S25>Unpublished Contractor Report: Shelley, A. 1995. Watching Brief at Norwich Castle Mound. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 146.
<S26>Unpublished Document: Shelley, A. 1995. Notes on watching brief at Norwich Castle mound.
<S27>Unpublished Document: Cubitt, D. [Transcription of Norfolk Chronicle article from 1824].
<S28>Newspaper Article: Norfolk Chronicle. 1824. [Unknown]. 11 September.
<S29>Unpublished Document: Shelley, A. 1991. [Notes on watching brief at Market Avenue, Norwich].
<S30>Unpublished Document: [Unknown]. 1991. [Borehole logs from geotechnical investigation at Norwich Castle].

Related records

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33Parent of: Multi period finds at the site of the new Colman Galleries, Norwich Castle Motte (Find Spot)
31Parent of: New store, Norwich Castle Museum (Monument)
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874Parent of: Norwich Castle Bridge (Monument)
518Parent of: Possible Roman coins and pottery, Norwich Castle Motte (Find Spot)
27Parent of: Post medieval pottery sherds, Castle Hotel (Find Spot)
26002Parent of: Royal Hotel, Agricultural Hall Plain (Building)
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135Parent of: Shirehall Chambers (Monument)
26141Parent of: Shirehall, Market Avenue (Building)
595Parent of: St Nicholas' Chapel, Norwich Castle (Monument)
314Parent of: The Bell Hotel, Orford Hill (Building)
243Parent of: Undated human remains from Norwich Castle Bridge, Castle Mound (Find Spot)
434Parent of: Undated pottery sherds, Castle Hill (Find Spot)
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