Castle Acre, a tranquil rural village in Norfolk, boasts an extraordinary wealth of history. It is a rare and complete survival of a Norman planned settlement, including a castle, village, parish church and one of the best-preserved monastic sites in England, Castle Acre Priory. All this was the work of a great Norman baronial family, the Warennes, mainly during the 11th and 12th centuries.
Castle Acre Castle was founded soon after the Battle of Hastings by the first William de Warenne, a close associate of William the Conqueror. It is a superb and well-preserved example of a motte-and-bailey castle, and remains one of the most impressive Norman earthworks in the country.
The Bailey Gate is one of two stone gatehouses added to the settlement's massive earthwork defences in about 1200. The main road into the village still runs between its towers.
Read more about the history of the castle and Bailey Gate.
Before You Go
How to Find It: If not needing to use the Pye's Lane car park, the castle is best accessed via a footpath off Bailey Street (between The Old Red Lion and The Old Chapel) as this route leads straight to the castle's west gate and opens into the outer bailey.
Access: Access around the castle is over dirt paths that are bark-chipped, and over grassy areas. The site can be slippery underfoot in wet weather so care is required. The path to the castle from the Pye's Lane car park involves a long set of steps. Access via the footpath from Bailey Street is step-free but can be muddy during wet winters around the castle's west gate. The Outer Bailey area is step-free but there are long sets of steps up to the Inner Bailey.
When visiting the Bailey Gate please be aware that the main road through Castle Acre village passes through it and visibility is limited as it on the brow of a hill and a bend. A pavement runs alongside the gate though for pedestrian use.
Parking: There is a small car park off Pye's Lane at the north east corner of the castle grounds.
Facilities: The castle and Bailey Gate are very close to the centre of Castle Acre village where there are a few shops and cafés, and a pub, mainly centred around the village green. Toilets can be found at Castle Acre Priory.
Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.
Walking guide: There is a 6-mile walk starting at the castle that goes to the priory and then follows roads and tracks through the picturesque Nar Valley - details are available here.