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Bungay Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Bungeye; castellum de Buneie; Bungehia; Bungeia; Bungeie

In the civil parish of Bungay.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TM336897
Latitude 52.45590° Longitude 1.43590°

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


On high ground, virtually surrounded by the Waveney and a site of earlier fortifications, Hugh Bigod, built a massive Norman keep in 1165. In 1174 he supported Henry II's rebellious sons in armed insurrection, which ended in surrender of the Castle to the King's forces and the payment of 1,000 Marks for his disloyalty. A second castle was built by Roger Bigod in 1294, with a licence to crenellate, which protected the town with curtain walls and provided the twin towers of the gate house which remain today.

Now almost a complete ruin, the remains of 2 circular towers still stand, with lower part with squared stonework. The ground plan was originally octagonal and the keep 54 ft square. Remains of walls are scattered about in flint rubble work, as are the various outer defences, earthworks, moats, etc. In 1140 Hugh Bigod, who had been created 1st Earl of Norfolk by Stephen, supported a rebellion against the King and was defeated at Bungay, and the Castle reduced. Re-instated, Hugh Bigod was again attacked, this time by Henry II on his accession to the throne, and was defeated and pardned on condition that the fortress was dismantled. This was carried out, and it remained uninhabitable, until 1281. Another Roger Bigod then obtained a licence to embattle his house, which stood on the old castle site. By 1312 the Castle had passed to Thomas de Brotherton in the reign of Edward II. In 1338, a daughter of Brotherton marrying Edward de Montacute the Castle passed into that family, and again changed ownership by marriage of his daughter to William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk. By 1382 an inquisition reports that the castle was old and ruinous. By 1477 the property had passed to the Howards and soon after was again consigned to neglect as a residence. From C16 onwards it changed hands from time to time as a ruined site until about the year 1800 it passed back to the then Earl of Norfolk. (PastScape–ref. listing report of 1949)
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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) p. 126, 128, 130, 208
      Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 311
      Liddiard, Robert, 2005, 'The Castle Landscape of Anglo-Norman East Anglia: A Regional Perspective' in Harper-Bill, C. (ed), Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge, Boydell) p. 33-51
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 72-3
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 232
      Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 63-4
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 456
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 196-7
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 122
      Pevsner, N., 1961, Buildings of England: Suffolk (London, Penguin) p. 109-10
      Mann, 1934, Old Bungay (London) p. 25-34 (histroy only)
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Wall, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Suffolk Vol. 1 p. 593-5 (plan) online copy
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 272-4 online copy
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 189-95 online copy
      Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 404 online copy
      Suckling, A., 1846, History and Antiquities of Suffolk (London) Vol. 1 p. 133-9 online transcription
  • Periodical Articles
    • Guy, Neil, et al, 2011-12, 'CSG Annual Conference April 2011' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 85-90
      2007, 'Archaeology in Suffolk 2006' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 41.3 p. 368 (slight) online copy
      Liddiard, Robert, 2006, 'Early castles in the Medieval Landscape of East Anglia' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 243-50
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1984, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 241 download copy
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1983, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1982' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 204 download 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)
      Braun, H, 1937, Journal of the British Archaeological Association (ser3) Vol. 1 p. 157-67
      Braun, H., and Dunning, G., 1936, 'Bungay Castle: Notes on 1936 excavations and on pottery from the mortar layer' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.3 p. 334-8 online copy
      Braun, H, 1935, 'Bungay Castle, report on the excavations' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.2 p. 201-23 online copy
      Braun, H., 1934, 'Some notes on Bungay Castle' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 22.1 p. 109-19 online copy online copy
      Raven, J.J., 1890, 'Notes on recent excavations at Bungay Castle' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 7.2 p. 212-3 (poor) 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. 212 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1882, The Builder Vol. 43 p. 176, 186-7
  • Guidebooks
    • Reeve, C., 2001, Bungay Castle Guide (Bungay Castle Trust)
      Braun, Hugh, 1991, Bungay Castle Historical Notes and Account of the Excavations (Bungay Castle Trust) (Mainly a reprint of Braun's 1934 and 1935 articles)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Luard, H.R (ed), 1865, 'Annales de Waverleia' in Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 2 p. 228 online copy
      Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 1 p. 48, 127 online copy
      Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1876, Radulfi de Diceto Decani Lundoniensis: Opera Historica (London, Rolls Series 68) Vol. 1 p. 404
      Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1292-1301) Vol. 3 p. 68 online copy
      Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 427 online copy
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 437
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 75 online copy
      English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 74 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 81 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 73 online copy
      Boulter, S. P., 2010, BUN 095, Bungay Castle Access, Archaeological Recording Report (Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service) online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 64 online copy
      Parfitt, C. and Whimster, R. (eds), 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 70 online copy
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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