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Norwich Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
castellum Norwici

In the civil parish of Norwich.
In the historic county of Norfolk.
Modern Authority of Norfolk.
1974 county of Norfolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TG23190853
Latitude 52.62840° Longitude 1.29604°

Norwich Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


This was the only castle built by William I in East Anglia. It was probably under construction before the end of the 1060s as an earthwork and timber fortification. In around 1100 the motte was heightened, and the surrounding ditch deepened. The square keep was built on top of the motte around 1095-1110 to serve as a Royal Palace. The construction is Caen stone over a flint core. The Keep is entered at first floor level through an external structure, the Bigod Tower. Although the Keep remains, its outer shell has been repaired repeatedly, most recently in 1835-8 by A. Salvin. The Norman bridge over the inner ditch was replaced in about 1825. The castle was used as a gaol from 1220, with additional buildings constructed on the top of the motte next to the Keep. 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. (Norfolk HER)

From documentary sources, it is known that the castle had a southern bailey with an inner barbican, a small bailey on the north-east side, and that the whole area was bounded by Castle Fees, which may have been marked by a ditch or bank. 1193 Pipe Roll gives total garrison as seventy-five knights and men at arms both horse and foot.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
      Shepherd Popescu, Elizabeth et al, 2009, Norwich Castle: Excavations and Historical Survey 1987-98 'Part I: Anglo-Saxon to c.1345' (East Anglian Archaeology 132.1); 'Part II c.1345 to Modern' (East Anglian Archaeology 132.2); 'Part III A Zooarchaeological Study' (EAA Occasional Paper 22); 'Part IV People and Property in the Documentary Record' (EAA Occasional Paper 23) (parts 3 and 4 also included as a CD with the printed first two volumes – A fifth part on cemeteries is available online only
      Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 169 (1075 siege)
      Dixon, P.W. and Marshall, P.E., 2002, 'Norwich Castle and its Analogues' in Meirion-Jones, G., Impey, E. and Jones, M. (eds), The Seigneurial Residence in Europe AD c.800-1600 (Oxford: Archaeopress BAR International Series 1088) p. 235-43
      Drury, P.J., 2002, 'Norwich Castle Keep' in Meirion-Jones, G., Impey, E. and Jones, M. (eds), The Seigneurial Residence in Europe AD c.800-1600 (Oxford: Archaeopress BAR International Series 1088) p. 211-234
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 64-5
      Fernie, E., 2000, 'Castles, Halls, and Chamber Blocks' in The Architecture of Norman England (Oxford University Press) p. 49-88 esp 72-4
      Shepherd Popescu, Elizabeth, 1997, 'Recent Excavations at Norwich Castle' in Guy De Boe and Frans Verhaeghe (eds), Military Studies in Medieval Europe - Papers of the 'Medieval Europe Brugge 1997' Conference Vol. 11 (Zellik) p. 187- view online transcription
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 161-2
      Heslop, T.A., 1994, Norwich Castle Keep: Romanesque Architecture and Social Context (Centre for East Anglian Studies)
      Ayers, B.S., 1994, English Heritage Book of Norwich (London: Batsford/English Heritage)
      Margeson, S., Seiller, F. and Rogerson, A., 1994, The Normans in Norfolk (Norfolk Museums Service) p. 24-8, 71
      Rogerson, Andrew, 1994, 'Castles' in Wade-Martins, P, (ed), An Historical Atlas of Norfolk (2edn Norwich; Norfolk Museums) p. 68-9
      Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 164-6
      Kent, Peter, 1988, Fortifications of East Anglia (Lavenham: Ternence Dalton)
      Ayers, B.S. 1988, Norwich Castle Mall excavation: the trial work 1988 (Norwich: Norfolk Museums Service)
      Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
      Ayers, B.S. 1987, Digging deeper: recent archaeology in Norwich (Norwich: Norfolk Museums Service) (esp p. 16–23, Cow Tower and castle keep)
      Ayers, B.S. 1985, Excavations within the North-East Bailey of Norwich Castle, 1979 (Dereham: Norfolk Archaeological Unit - East Anglian Archaeology 28)
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 308-9
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 268-9
      Wilton, J.W., 1979, Earthworks and Fortifications of Norfolk (Weathercock Press) p. 18-9
      Campbell, J., 1975, 'Norwich' in Lobel, M.D. (ed) The Atlas of Historic Towns Vol. 2 (London: Scolar Press/Historic Towns Trust) online copy
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 259-62
      Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 753-5
      Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1962, Buildings of England: Norwich and north-east Norfolk (Penguin) p. 255-8
      Rye, W., 1921, Norwich Castle (Holt)
      Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 173-6 online copy
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 304-7 online copy
      Beecheno, 1888, Notes on Norwich Castle (Norwich) (unimportant)
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 210-11 online copy
      Harrod, Henry, 1857, Gleanings among the Castles and Convents of Norfolk (Norwich) p. 125-54
      Woodward, 1847, History and Antiquities of Norwich Castle (Norwich)
      Turner, D. (ed), 1845, John Kirkpatrick, History of the Religious Orders and Communities and of the Hospitals and Castle of Norwich Written About the Year 1725 (London) online copy
      Britton, John, 1835, The Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain (London) Vol. 4 p. 135-7
      Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 202
      Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 4 p. 16-9
      Gurdon, 1728, Essay on the Antiquity of the Castel of Norwich (Norwich) (eccentric history)
  • Periodical Articles
    • Janka Rodziewicz, 2013, 'Making a museum from a Norman Keep and Victorian Prison: The Norfolk and Norwich Museum 1886-1896' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 46 p. 503-10
      2012, 'Norwich Castle Redevelopment' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 14 p. 6-7
      Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
      Dixon, Philip, 2001-2002, 'Norwich Great Tower' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 15 p. 24-26 online copy
      Shepherd, Elizabeth, 2000, 'Norwich Castle' Current Archaeology Vol. 15.2 p. 52-9
      Shelley, A., 1996, 'Norwich Castle Bridge' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 40 p. 217-225 online copy
      Shepherd, Elizabeth, 1995-96, 'Norwich Castle Excavations' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 9 p. 25-8 online copy
      Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 online copy (subscription required)
      Youngs, S.M. et al, 1988 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 32 p. 263-4 online copy
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1987, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1986' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 31 p. 151-2 online copy
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1986, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 30 p. 158-9 online copy
      Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 309
      Green, B., 1980, 'Norwich Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 358-9
      Whittingham, A., 1980, 'Note on Norwich Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 359-60
      Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1980, 'Medieval Britain in 1979' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 228-9 online copy
      Atkin and Milligan, 1976, CBA Group 7 Vol. 23 p. 17
      1974, Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 36 p. 68
      1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 163 online copy
      King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
      1964, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 255-7 online copy
      Renn, D.F., 1964, 'The first Norman Castles in England 1051-1071' Château Gaillard Vol. 1 p. 125-132
      1962-3, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 6-7 p. 322 online copy
      Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      Dunning, G.C. et al, 1959, 'Anglo-Saxon Pottery: A Symposium' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 32, 44 online copy
      Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
      Whittingham, A.B, 1950-51, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 106 p. 77 online copy
      Tench, E.J., 1910, 'Norwich Castle Mound' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 42-5 (excavation report) online copy
      Armitage, E., 1904 April, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 240-1 online copy
      Round, J.H., 1902, 'Castle Guard' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 59 p. 144-159 online copy
      Hartshorne, A., 1889, 'Norwich Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 260-8 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 208-9 online copy
      Pettigrew, T.J., 1858, 'On the Antiquities of Norfolk' Journal of British Archaeological Association Vol. 14 p. 9-13 online copy
      Wilkins, Wm, 1796, 'An essay towards the history of the Venta Icenorum of the Romans, and of Norwich Castle; with Remarks on the Architecture of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans' Archaeologia Vol. 12 p. 141-80
      King, Edward, 1777, 'Observations on antient castles' Archaeologia Vol. 4 p. 364-413 esp 364-413 esp 396-405 online copy
  • Guidebooks
    • Green, Barbara, n.d. (revised 1969) Norwich Castle: A Fortress for Nine Centuries (Jarrold and Sons)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Worchester Chronicle AD1075; Laud AD1088 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
      Arnold, Thomas (ed), 1879, Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum (London: Rolls series 74) p. 259 online copy
      Green, J.A. (ed.), 2012, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the thirty first year of the reign of King Henry I, Michaelmas 1130 (Pipe Roll Society Publications 95) 
      The Great Roll of the Pipe for the fifth year of the reign of King Richard I, Michaelmas 1193 (Pipe Roll Society 41)
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 330-4
      C145/180(22) (Survey of 1359) The National Archives reference (calendared in Stamp. A.E. (ed), 1937, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 3 p. 137 No. 378 online copy)
      C145/248(5) (Survey of 1390 (?)) The National Archives reference
      SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference
      C145/234(3) (Survey of 1384) The National Archives reference (calendared in Evans, D.L. (ed), 1957, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 4 p. 168-9 No. 298 online copy)
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
      Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 317
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 149 online copy
      Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
      Popescu, Elizabeth Shepherd, 2005, Critical appraisal : 1) Norwich Castle: excavations and historical survey 1987-98 - Part 1: Anglo-Saxon to c.1345 - Part 2: c.1345 to Modern - 2) Norwich Castle Fee (PhD thesis University of East Anglia) (available via EThOS)
      Faulkner, P.A., 1971, Report on Norwich Castle Keep (City of Norwich Museums)
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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