Record Details

NHER Number:7230
Type of record:Monument
Name:Mileham Castle


Mileham Castle is one of the largest motte and bailey castles in Norfolk. It straddles the B1145, a pre-Conquest road that remained the main east-west route through the county until the 17th century. The castle was constructed in about 1100 and its remains form a surprisingly imposing monument consisting of a motte built up around the fragments of a stone keep, two baileys and a further banked rectangular enclosure to the north of the road, which now contains Burwood Hall (built in 1793) and farm buildings. A large wooded deer park was once attached to the south of the castle. The positioning of the castle astride the road is thought to have been connected with raising revenue from a possible market place in the northern enclosure and from tolls on travellers.
It is probable that the castle had fallen out of use by about 1300, but before then the tall keep, probably whitewashed, when seen against the green wooded backdrop of the deer park, would have been an impressive sight.


  • The keep and motte at Mileham Castle  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • Aerial photograph of Mileham Castle.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TF 9199 1868
Map Sheet:TF91NW

Full description

Motte and bailey castle with northern rectangular extension; town defences, or site of Burwood Manor House? Burwood Hall of 1793 now within it. Demesne boundary extends from castle.

1968. Excavation by M. C. Taylor for Norwich Research Committee along the east side of a rectangular banked and ditched enclosure, attached to the outer bailey of the Norman castle on the north-east It had been suggested that this enclosure was Roman. The only material recovered was two 12th- to 13th-century sherds.
The results of this work are summarised in (S17).
Amended by M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 02 May 2013.

1979. In contractors trenches: medieval pottery, cobbles and pits seen NCM.

July 1999. Watching Brief.
Undertaken during moat cleaning. No finds or features noted.
See report (S5) for further details.

September 1999. Earthwork Survey.
A re-examination of the site noted some subdivision within the rectangular ditched enclosure north of the road. Minor additions within the ringwork include a spread bank internal to the outer ditch.
See plan in file. This site was included in (S15) and the results of the survey are also summarised in (S16).
D. Holburn (HES), 21 November 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 March 2015.

Section 17 Management Agreement signed 21 April 1995 (5 years).
H. Paterson (A&E), 14 September 1999.

Schedule sheets (S1) in file. Keep remains listed (S2).
Notes by R. R. Clarke (NCM) and others (S3) in file.
Correspondence on 1973 damage (S4) in file.
Information taken from (S17).
E. Rose (NLA), 5 October 1999.

Visited with Haidee Bishop, Stewardship Officer to monitor agreed management of the site under NMNP and stewardship agreements. Cut timber has now been burnt and/ or removed from site. Sheep fencing, gate and kissing gate erected. Winter sheep grazing will be introduced with a derogation, to browse the invasive thistle and nettle.
H. Paterson (A&E), 11 November 1999.

Section 17 Agreement signed 25 November 2002.
Copy in office file.
H. Paterson (A&E), 3 December 2002.

February 2003. Roadside hedge cut to approximately 30cm (1 foot) above ground level. Interior of masonry structures on keep now completely cleared of vegetation.
H. Paterson (A&E), 13 February 2003.

November 2004.
The keep masonry, the subject of a Section 17 agreement shows some regeneration of bramble and elder, especially in the deep chambers. Contractor will visit shortly to strim and poison regenerating scrub.
H. Paterson (A&E), 30 November 2004.

March 2005. Survey.
Survey of keep and motte undertaken results in 1:50 plan of keep, 1:100 north-south and east-west profiles of the motte and keep and a 1:100 contour survey of the motte.
See report (S6) for further details.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2018.205).
J. Allen (NLA), 8 May 2005. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 27 April 2019.

Before 22 January 2006. Casual finds from middle of inner ward.
Two sherds of medieval pottery.
See list in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 23 January 2006.

1947 photograph (S7) and press cuttings (S8) to (S13) in file.

29 October 2006. On surface of outer bailey.
Medieval sherd.
See description in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 30 October 2006.

November 2006.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning drainage works on site.
See (S14)
H. White (NLA), 6 April 2009.

15 July and 17 December 2006. Casual finds in three areas.
Medieval and post medieval pottery sherds.
Fragment of medieval roof tile.
See list in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 16 January 2007.

The “demesne boundary” mentioned in NCM notes above, is remarkably similar in its shape and relationship to the castle as that at Middleham, Yorks, attached to the original ringwork there later used as a viewpoint.
E. Rose (NLA), 27 September 2007.

Monument Types

  • BOUNDARY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PARK PALE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FARMSTEAD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GREAT HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS SITE (Cold War - 1945 AD to 1992 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Management Statement
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Monograph: 1901. The Victoria History of Norfolk. The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Vol 1. p 310.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). TF 9119A,ABN-ABQ,ABR-ABZ,ACA-ACC,ACR-ACW,ACX-ADC,ADG-ADK.
---Article in Serial: Clark, G. T. 1889. Contribution Towards a Complete List of Moated Mounds or Burhs. The Archaeological Journal. Vol pp 197-217. p 208.
---Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1809. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol X. 375. p 22.
---Publication: Braun. 1842-3. English Castle. p.40,98. pp 40, 98.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A.. 1995. TF9119/ADW - AED.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TF9119/AEE - AEL.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TF9119/AEM - AEX.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TF9119/ADT - ADV.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TF 9119ADP - ADS.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TF 9119AEY - AFE, AND.
---Publication: Carthew, G.A.. [unknown]. Vol IX, p 341. p 341.
---Monograph: Liddiard, R.. 2000. Landscapes of lordship: Norman castles and the countryside in medieval Norfolk, 1066-1200.. pp 79-82.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 91 NW 3 [5].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Wade-Martins, P. 1980. Fieldwork and Excavation on Village Sites in Launditch Hundred, Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 10. p 46.
---Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1907. Thetford Castle Hill. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XVI pp 39-45. p 40.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 544.
---Photograph: 1993/4. Photographs of Mileham Castle, Mileham. black and white.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Mileham.
---Article in Serial: 1969. Excavations at Mileham Castle. Norfolk Research Committee Bulletin. Series 1 No 18 p 7.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Article in Serial: Carthew, G.A. 1879. On Earthworks at Mileham. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol VIII pp 10-16.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF523.
<S1>Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF523.
<S2>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Clarke, R. R., Wade-Martins, P., Rose, E. etc. Notes.
<S4>Correspondence: Various.
<S5>Unpublished Report: Wade-Martins, P. 1999. Milham Castle. Watching Brief report on moat cleaning, July 1999.
<S6>Unpublished Contractor Report: Percival, J. 2005. An Archaeological Survey of the motte at Mileham Castle, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit.
<S7>Photograph: 1947. Foundations of keep of Norman castle looking north..
<S8>Newspaper Article: Dereham and Fakenham Times. 1991. [Photograph of the reamins of the walls of Mileham Castle]. 2 February.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. 1066 and all that… but finally Norfolk's long-lost castle is revealed. 3 June.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Dereham and Fakenham Times. 1998. Found the lost castle. 4 June.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. New lease of life for castle. 19 June.
<S12>Newspaper Article: The Daily Telegraph. 2003. BBC claim ruined castle doesn't have TV licence. 10 March.
<S13>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2003. I know they show some old stuff on telly, but…. 11 March.
<S14>Designation: DCMS. 2006. Scheduled monument consent.
<S15>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 173.
<S16>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.
<S17>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, D. G. 1971. Medieval Britain in 1968. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XIII (for 1969) pp 230-287. pp 258-260.

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