Record Details

NHER Number:40577
Type of record:Monument
Name:New Buckenham Castle


This substantial castle was established by the D'Albini's around 1146. The ringwork contains the oldest, and perhaps the largest, Norman circular keep in the country. The castle has two baileys. The east bailey (recorded as Knightriders Ward in a documentary source) is the earliest and was reached via an east gateway that was destroyed in the 13th century when the bank of the ringwork was enlarged almost burying the gatehouse. A second bailey, gatehouse and barbican-like defensive enclosure were constructed at the same time to the southwest. Massive earthworks of these features still remain and the keep and its dividing wall with a pointed doorway still stand around 6m in height. Cropmarks of other buildings inside the ringwork can be seen on aerial photographs. The castle was besieged twice in the 13th and 15th centuries. It was defortified in the 1640s.


  • An 18th or 19th century engraving of New Buckenham Castle.  © Norfolk County Council


Grid Reference:TM 08454 90399
Map Sheet:TM09SE

Full description

Known as New Buckenham Castle despite being in Old Buckenham parish, because of its connection with the planned town.
Ringwork and circular keep of 1136, perhaps the largest and earliest in Britain. Lower storey survives to around 6m (20 feet) high. Cross wall divides interior, with pointed doorway through. East gatehouse and bailey; later replaced by southwest gatehouse and bailey. Besieged twice in 13th and 15th centuries, slighted in 17th century. Defortified in the 1640s.
E. Rose (NLA).

Paul Rutledge dates the castle to 1136. It is supposed to have had a timber superstructure, for which the slots in the present walls held supporting posts. The tunnel like entrance is 18th century.
E. Rose (NLA), 1983.

January 1988.
A tree uprooted by gales revealed masonry on the outer lip of the ringwork moat in the quadrant between the chapel and the bridge.
E. Rose (NLA), 10 March 1988.

The original enclosure was about 600 feet in diameter and no doubt originally had a relatively low rampart, made from the material dug from the ditch which would undoubtedly have surrounded it. The early entrance was to the east and lay just north of the round tower.
See (S4) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 11 January 2010.

December 1999. Earthwork survey.
A substantial complex comprising a large ringwork with two baileys, the first to the east, the later second one to the southwest. The ringwork has a massive internal bank thought to have been raised when the new bailey was added and almost burying the original gatehouse. Masonry fragments of the later gatehouse are noted to the north of the present entrance which is approached by a medieval bridge. Within the ringwork is the impressive lower section of a circular keep with a dividing wall. The earlier bailey has a well spread inner bank but the surrounding ditch is not well preserved. The later bailey to the southwest has generally been assumed to extend to the road to the south. However air photographs show a small barbican-like enclosure protecting the new entrance with its ditch as a very clear cropmark in grass except for its southwest arm which is a water filled ditch. This is part of a longer ditch but the bailey section is wider, deeper and has a more substantial outer bank that the remainder. It is possible any enclosure extending to the road would have been an outer court or later extension. This approach would have passed a medieval chapel. The later bailey ditch extends westwards with a spoil bank to the south and is interpreted as part of a substantial boundary, possibly of parkland. There is a continuous roadside bank to the southwest possibly linking to the bailey which turns northwards to follow a hedge and ditch again suggesting a boundary of some significance, a later park extent? Some features internal to this include an incomplete ditched enclosure with some internal depressions indicating possible fishponds and one isolated pond.
See report (S1) in file. This site is amongst those included in (S12) and the survey is also noted in (S13).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 23rd July 2004.

(S2) refers to the east bailey as Knightriders Ward.

Previously NHER 9200 context 1. For castle chapel see NHER 39594, for pottery finds from bailey see NHER 40624.

April 2007.
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the dredging of the moat round the castle ringwork and spreading the soil on adjoining land.
See (S3)
H. White (NLA), 6 April 2009.

June 2012. Watching Brief.
Maintained during the dredging of the moat.
Details awaited.
D. Robertson (HES), 22 June 2012.

June 2012. Norfolk NMP.
Aerial photographs of New Buckenham Castle (S5-S11) were examined as part of the National Mapping Programme. It was not possible to augment the comprehensive earthwork survey of 1999 (S1). The earlier bailey to the north-east is visible on earlier aerial photographs (S5-8), but not is as clear on the later photos. The moat is visible water-filled on some photographs (S8), and internal features are visible on others (S10-11), but none of the photographs would allow for mapping in greater detail than the earthwork survey.
It is possible, however, that earthworks relating to the projected line of a possible Roman Road (see NHER 53750) are faintly visible running west southwest-east northeast across the area and that a possible field boundary or drainage feature is visible slightly to the north (S7-S8).
E. Bales (NMP), 18th June 2012.

Monument Types

  • BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BARBICAN? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRIDGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KEEP (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RINGWORK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished Document: Holland, J.I.. 1975. The History of the Castle of Buckenham.
---Publication: Westgate, P.. 1937. Buckenham Castle, a monograph.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TM 09 SE 9 [8].
---Documentary Source: Taylor, R.. 1815?. Plan of Buckenham Castle etc.
---Documentary Source: Morrell, F.E.. 1800. Remains of Buckenham Castle, Norfolk.
---Documentary Source: Higham, T.. 1818. Remains of the Keep. New Buckenham Castle, Norfolk.
---Unpublished Document: Buckenham Castle.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1980. Support for moat bridge. 5 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1985. Treasure seekers blamed. 9 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Castle buyer found. 10 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. NRA accused over dry moat. 8 February.
---Newspaper Article: The Sunday Telegraph. 1991. Peace breaks out on the ramparts. 8 December.
---Website: Davis, P.. ..
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 558-559.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The second Norman invasion. 28 July.
---Article in Serial: Renn, D. F. 1961. The Keep at New Buckenham. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXII, pp 232-235.
---Article in Serial: Rigold, S. 1980. New Buckenham Castle. The Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 353-355.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF516.
---Designation: Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 1975-?. Norfolk Archaeological Unit Recommendation for Scheduling. Recommendation. DNF516.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Cushion, B.. 1999. New Buckenham Castle.
<S2>Map: 1693. New and Old Buckenham.
<S3>Designation: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S4>Monograph: Remfry, P.M.. 1997. Buckenham Castles 1066 to 1649..
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1429 3296-7 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/1938 3050-51 18-JAN-1947 (NMR).
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1955. NHER TM 0890 ABV-W (CUCAP PP46-7) 14-APR-1955.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1973. CUCAP (AJI92) 29-JUNE-1964 (CUCAP).
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1976. NHER TM 0890 B-E (NLA 27/AEY9-12) 29-JUN-1976.
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1984. NHER TM 0890 AA-AD (NLA 138/ATS8-11) 05-FEB-1984.
<S11>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1995. OS/95514 252-3 09-APR-1995 (NMR).
<S12>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 175.
<S13>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 530.

Related records

41233Related to: Medieval town boundary ditch (Monument)
9200Related to: New Buckenham, a medieval planned town (Monument)
39594Related to: St Mary's Chapel (Building)

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