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Historic England Research Records

Castle Rising Castle

Hob Uid: 356450
Location :
Norfolk
King's Lynn and West Norfolk
Castle Rising
Grid Ref : TF6657024550
Summary : The earthwork and structural remains of Castle Rising Castle, founded in around 1140 by William de Albini II, are located to the south of the village of Castle Rising in Norfolk. Pre-dating the castle, however, are the below ground remains of a Saxon settlement and a ruined church, which may have been the parish church prior to the 12th century. Situated in the central enclosure, to the north of the keep, the church has three bays, two blocked doorways and two round headed windows.When established in circa 1140, the castle comprised a series of earthworks, the gatehouse and keep. The central earthwork enclosure is ovoid in plan and surrounded by an inner bank and ditch, with its entrance protected by a rectangular enclosure to the east. In the late 12th or early 13th century, these earthworks were raised and the western enclosure was created. The gatehouse at the entrance of the inner enclosure is a rectangular tower with a round headed archway, grooves for a portcullis and recesses in the side walls. The keep, described as one of the most lavishly decorated in England, is rectangular in plan with a tower that was originally of two storeys. The keep, like the rest of the castle and its outer defences, underwent various repairs and modifications during the late 13th and 14th centuries. In the first half of the 14th century, possibly soon after it was acquired by the crown, a suite of buildings were constructed south of the keep and included private lodgings, a chapel, hall, and separate kitchen. The hall and kitchen were later rebuilt, however they were demolished in the 16th century. By 1542-3 the keep was ruined but section of it were still in use and in 1544 it was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The property is now owned and managed by Lord Howard of Rising.
More information : [TF66572455] CASTLE [GT] (Remains of)
[TF66622455] GATEHOUSE [GT]
[TF66582459] CHAPEL [GT] (Remains of) (1)

12th Century Castle [RAF Air photographs 7533, 7534, 7535] (2)

3. At Castle Rising the keep is surrounded by a wide and deep ditch, and there are 2 outworks, one on either side of the bailey. Except for the fragmentary ruins of the gateway all the defences of the bailey have disappeared, and apart from the keep the sole remnants of the bailey buildings are the foundations of an apsidal chapel of the Norman period.
The keep was built c. 1140 and its walls are still complete up to and including the base of the parapet; it is of 2 lofty storeys. (3)

TF 665246. During 1970, work has been carried out within the keep, where the construction and original flooring levels were investigated. Evidence was found for its intensive occupation of the site in the late Saxon period, although no structural remains were identified. Further work is anticipated.
Annual excavations of the church and periodic maintenance and restoration of the keep continue. See 25" survey, photo's and OS AP's. (4)

Scheduled monument no 21329.

The earthwork and structural remains of Castle Rising Castle are located to the south of the village of Castle Rising.

The church is the earliest stone structure identified on the site and is situated in the central enclosure around 30 metres to the north of the keep. It is divided into three bays with blocked opposing doorways in the nave and two round headed windows. The church dates from the period before the construction of the castle and is thought to have been the parish church prior to the 12th century.

The castle is thought to have been founded by William de Albini II, Earl of Sussex and Lord of Rising, around 1140, which is the approximate date of the keep and gatehouse. Excavation has shown that the original date of the surrounding earthworks cannot be very much earlier than this, if at all, contrary to a tradition that they are of Roman origin. The central earthwork enclosure is ovoid in plan, surrounded by an inner bank and a ditch. The enclosure and earthworks together have overall dimensions of 198m north-south by a maximum of 150m east-west. The entrance to this inner ward is protected by a rectangular eastern outwork measuring 155m north-south by 92m overall, with a bank and an external ditch. A ramped causeway leads up to the outwork from the north and crosses the bank and ditch on that side at their western end. A corresponding causeway across the earthworks on the south side of the eastern outwork is not an original feature. The smaller outwork on the west side of the central ringwork is also rectangular in plan and measures 125m north-south by 50m overall. The ditch and a slight bank enclose a platform raised up to 5m above the prevailing ground level. There is no surviving means of access from the inner ward.

Evidence from excavation works has revealed that the earthworks around the inner ward were originally lower and in the late 12th or early 13th century the bank was heightened and ditch deepened. At the same time, the outworks were also modified, the platform of the western outwork was created, presumably with material dug from the enlarged ditches, and the interior of the eastern enclosure is known to have been raised also. Traces of a ditch and counterscarp bank, which probably date from the earliest period of construction, can be seen as relatively slight earthworks immediately to the south of the western outwork. To the south and east they have been levelled by ploughing, but the ditch survives as a buried feature. The bank of the central enclosure was surmounted by a curtain wall, now ruined, although its date of construction has not been established.

The gatehouse at the entrance of the inner enclosure is set between the ends of the bank. The main structure, dated to the earlier part of the 12th century, is a rectangular tower pierced by an entrance passage with plain round headed arches to front and rear. There are grooves for a portcullis and arched recesses in the side walls of the entrance passage. In the south wall there is also an arched doorway leading to a stair which once gave access to an upper chamber. The structure of the gatehouse shows evidence of later modification.

The principal building of the castle was the keep, built from local stone with facings of limestone and whose walls still stand to almost their full original height. The keep is a rectangular structure, with a rectangular tower and forebuilding on the east side. The projecting tower, originally of two storeys, contains the entrance to the keep at first floor level, reached by a wide stairway within the forebuilding to the south. The four corners of the keep are enclosed by clasping buttresses which were crowned at one time by corner turrets, and there are similar buttresses on the outer angles of the forebuilding tower to the east. On the walls between the buttresses there are broad pilaster strips above a sloping plinth, and on the west wall of the keep, which was at the service end, arcading between the pilasters masks the vents of latrines on the first floor. The walls of the forebuilding on the east side and to the south, above the doorway at the foot of the stair, are richly decorated. The keep, like the rest of the castle and its outer defences, underwent various repairs and modifications during the late 13th and 14th centuries.

During the first half of the 14th century, an important suite of buildings was constructed to the south of the keep, including a western range of private lodgings with an adjoining chapel to the east, a hall, and a separate kitchen.
All of these but the western range and chapel were later replaced by buildings in timber and brick, which were finally demolished towards the end of the 16th century. Part of the chapel still stood as a ruin in the 18th century, when it was depicted in views of the castle, and the lower walls, together with fragments of the walls of the east end of the lodgings range, are still visible.

In 1542-43 the keep is described as a ruin, with only the walls left standing, but parts of it were evidently still being used and adapted for use in the later 15th and early 16th century, even after the collapse of the main floor.

The castle, and in particular the keep, manifests the power and status of William de Albini II following his marriage in 1138 to Alice of Louvain, the widowed queen of Henry I. After the death in 1243 of Hugh de Albini, the last Lord of Rising of that name, the castle and manor passed by marriage to Roger de Montalt and was held by his heirs until 1327, when it passed to the crown. From 1331 until 1358 it was held by Queen Isabella, the notorious widow of Edward II, as one of her principal residences, and the suite of buildings to the south of the keep probably dates from this period. In 1337 the castle was granted in perpetuity to the Duchy of Cornwall, and after the death of Isabella it was held by the Black Prince until his death in 1376. Several documents of this period refer to works ordered or authorised by the prince to be carried out on the buildings here, and later documents attest its maintenance during the 15th and early 16th century. In 1544 it was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and to Henry his son. (5)

Entry in Rhatz's Appendix A, "Gazetteer of Anglo- Saxon domestic sites". Castle Rising Norfolk TF 666 246 castle site with Late Saxon settlement traces. (6)

Excavations between 1970-6 and in 1987 examined the defences, the keep of circa 1140, the early Norman church, the Mediaeval buildings south of the church south of the keep, and small areas of the outworks.

Prehistoric flints were found, and Iron Age and Roman finds and buildings suggest a settlement nearby.

Considerable activity on the site in the late Saxon and early Norman period include timber building interpreted as a bow-sided hall approximately on the site of the later keep, as well as an early church (Norman rather than Saxon), and various gullies, ditches and hearths. A bell-pit and other furnaces were found in association with the church, which was probably secularised in the 12th century.

Little significant information emerged concerning the keep, and no ancillary buildings of Norman date were located. This supports the view that the keep remained unfinished until some time in the 13th century.

Exploration of the castle defences established that the ringwork and outworks are contemporary with the keep, the ringwork being enlarged circa 1200 at the expense of the outworks. In the 14th century the ringwork was heightened, and a wall-top and three towers added.

Mediaeval buildings to the south of the keep revealed 6 phases of occupation. Two residential ranges with a chapel attached date from the early 1330's when the castle became the principal residence of Edward II's widow, Isabella. A timber kitchen was built at the same time, although replaced by a larger brick-built one in the early 15th century. By the late 15th century, most of the buildings were delapidated, the keep, according to documentary sources, having been largely abandoned. However, the main buildings dating from Isabella's occupancy were entirely rebuilt and used to serve parties enjoying hunting on the chase. The latter activity continued into the late 16th century, at the end of which the buildings were systematically demolished. (7)

In 1987 a sondage on the inside of the eastern outwork discovered redeposited chalky boulder clays which probably represent the phase of deepening of the ringwork, and heightening of the bank ca 1200. (8)

This website contains some brief historic information as well as information for those planning a visit to the castle. In its brief historic description, the website notes that in the 18th century it housed a person who was said to have a mental illness. (9)

The castle site has remained in the Howard family to the present day, although it passed into state guardianship in 1958. (10)

The castle is listed in the English Heritage members' and visitors' handbook 2009/10. In the handbook, the keep is described as one of the most lavishly decorated examples in England. (11)

The property is now owned and managed by Lord Howard of Rising and is open to visitors. (12)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov Ed 1904/50
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Source Number : 2
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 83-44
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Source Number : 11
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 137
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Source Number : 12
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2011. 'Castle Rising' <> [Accessed 04-FEB-2011]
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Source Number : 3
Source : Council for British Archaeology: Calendar of excavations
Source details : 1970
Page(s) : 20
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHS 10-DEC-71
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Source Number : 5
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11-May-94
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Source Number : 6
Source : The archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
Source details :
Page(s) : 414
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Source Number : 7
Source : Castle Rising Castle, Norfolk
Source details :
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Vol(s) : no.81
Source Number : 8
Source : Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group : Annual
Source details :
Page(s) : 05-Jul
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Vol(s) : 50, 1987
Source Number : 9
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Castle Rising, , [accessed 22-SEP-2009]
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Source Number : 10
Source : Castle Rising [Norfolk]
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Page(s) : 27
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Late Saxon settlement
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 870
Monument Type : Settlement, Building
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : In use prior to 12th century
Monument End Date : 1101
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Church
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Rebuilt 1350-C16th
Monument End Date : 1600
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Great Hall, Kitchen
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Norman
Monument End Date : 1170
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Church, Furnace, Bell Foundry
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built circa 1140
Monument End Date : 1150
Monument Start Date : 1130
Monument Type : Ringwork And Bailey, Castle, Keep, Gatehouse, Rectangular Enclosure, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork, Ruined Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Enlarged late 12th/early 13th century
Monument End Date : 1232
Monument Start Date : 1167
Monument Type : Ringwork And Bailey, Rectangular Enclosure
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Altered late C13-C14
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1267
Monument Type : Ringwork And Bailey, Keep, Castle
Evidence : Earthwork, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built first half C14th
Monument End Date : 1350
Monument Start Date : 1301
Monument Type : Domestic Chapel, Kitchen, Great Hall, Apartment
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Acquired by crown 1327
Monument End Date : 1327
Monument Start Date : 1327
Monument Type : Royal Palace
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt 1350-C16th
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1350
Monument Type : Great Hall, Kitchen
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Demolished C16th
Monument End Date : 1600
Monument Start Date : 1501
Monument Type : Great Hall, Kitchen
Evidence : Demolished Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Norfolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 3307
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21329
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 222184
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : NF 3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 15808/21
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : BB007878
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TF 62 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 356500
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE RISING CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1851-01-01
End Date : 1851-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE RISING CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TF 62 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-12-10
End Date : 1971-12-10
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE RISING CASTLE (TICKET OFFICE SITE)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE RISING KEEP
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE RISING CASTLE
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31