Isle of Albion
Once part of a thriving Norman settlement.
Photographed: Tuesday 14th July 2009
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Castle Acre Castle is a Norman motte and bailey fortification, located in the Norfolk village of Castle Acre. It was founded soon after the Norman conquest by William de Warenne - Earl of Surrey and Chief Justiciar to William the Conqueror - as a "stone country house" The site was probably home to an earlier Anglo-Saxon manor.

Around 1140AD, the site was heavily fortified. A motte was constructed, enclosed by earthworks and a curtain wall, and a keep and gatehouse erected. This took place during the reign of King Stephen at a time when England was divided by civil war. The defences at Castle Acre had never been granted royal license, and so when Henry II came to the throne, he ordered the keep to be destroyed. Most of the other buildings presumably remained, as the site was still in use until its abandonment following the death of

Much of the rest seems to have been left however until the castle was abandoned following the death John de Warenne, the last Warenne earl of Surrey, in 1347AD.

The town of Castle Acre was built to plan outside the main castle walls, but was itself protected by earthwork defences and stone walls. The northern gate house still survives, and the main road still passes beneath it where it enters the town.

Although little remains in the way of impressive stone structures, the earthworks at Castle Acre are notable in their own right. Walking the slopes that surround the bailey gives the visitor a true sense of the scale of the defences that once existed here. Furthermore, the Norman layout of the town is still apparent, which further helps to convey a powerful sense of history. When combined with Castle Acre priory on the opposite side of the village, this is a fantastic site to visit, offering a rich and unique experience.