Sources for Castle Acre Castle and Bailey Gate

This section lists the sources, both published and unpublished, for our current knowledge and understanding of Castle Acre Castle and Bailey Gate.

An early 18th-century tinted engraving showing the inner bailey and its defences
An early 18th-century engraving showing the inner bailey and its defences, which then survived in much better condition than today © Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service (Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery)

Primary Written Sources (Unpublished)

Bodleian Library, Oxford

MS Gough Norfolk 5, vol K, 18058 [Francis Blomefield’s field notes and site drawings etc of 1734: fols 68–9 (notes), 270 (plan) and 269 (key to plan)]

British Library

Harley MS 2110 [Castle Acre cartulary; accessed 19 October 2012]

Add MSS 6735, 6753, 6755 [notes and drawings by Thomas Kerrich, 1782] (for details see under Visual Sources below)

The National Archives

TNA WORK 14/1035 [registry files of the Office of Works and successors, 1925–37]

Holkham Hall Archives

Miscellaneous Deeds, DM/366 and 367; Castle Acre Deeds, DD/Ca 76

Other relevant documents within the Holkham Hall Archives include manorial records and deeds relating to the parish, from 1271 to the early 20th century; and estate records (surveys, maps, audit books, etc) from about 1700 onwards (catalogued but not indexed).

Primary Written Sources (Published)

Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry III, vol 2: 1231–1234 (London, 1905), 82 and 379

Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1392–1399, vol 6 (London, 1963), 128–9 [survey of Castle Acre, 1397]

Calendar of the Patent Rolls of Henry III Preserved in the Public Record Office, 6 vols (London, 1901–13) [accessed 19 October 2012]

Clay, CT (ed), ‘The honour of Warenne’, Early Yorkshire Charters, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, Extra Series, 6 (1949) [includes foundation charter of Lewes Priory]

Dugdale, W, Monasticon Anglicanum, ed J Caley, 6 vols (London, 1817–30), vol 5

Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed and trans M Chibnall, 6 vols (Oxford, 1969–80)

Van Houts, L, The Warenne (Hyde) Chronicle, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 2013)

Material Sources

Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service

NMAS holds a large collection of finds from the excavations of Castle Acre Castle in the 1970s and 1980s. 

English Heritage Collection

English Heritage holds mainly soil and mortar samples, with a few archaeological items, from the excavations. These are held in store at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire.

Visual Sources

British Library

Drawings and notes by Thomas Kerrich, 1782

Add MS 6735:

  • fol 72 [sketch plan of castle, showing curtain walls intact/traceable for most of circuit (not barbican), and hint of building in inner bailey: ‘Area within 97 yards square or thereabouts’]
  • fol 73 [view of the castle from the west, reproduced in Coad and Coppack 1998]
  • fol 74 [similar view from the east, showing curtain wall of outer bailey still standing to battlement height in one place]
  • fol 75 [south, east and north elevations of inner bailey]
  • fol 76 [view ‘cavalier’ of inner bailey from south]
  • fol 77 [elaborate plan of castle, larger than any of the others, and elevation and a section of inner bailey. The outlines of the buildings in the bailey are shown in great detail and annotated with numbers, although there is no key]
  • fol 78 [plan and view of ‘north look-out’, ie latrine and its window in inner bailey]

Add MS 6753:

  • fol 104v [plan of keep]
  • fol 105 [plan of whole castle and town defences, showing outlines of buildings in the bailey very clearly and marking, near the north town gate, the ‘scite of an old chapel’]
  • fol 106 [buttresses to keep]
  • fol 107 [view of castle gate]
  • fols 108r and v [description of castle, July 1782, regarding the gate: ‘a gate which seems to have been in it (the rampart) is still remaining … and has a portcullis in it … arch of it is gothic’]

Add MS 6755:

  • fol 8 [notes about the history of the castle and priory].   

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Castle Acre Castle include:

  • an album of 95 photographs, taken 1938–72, showing the original overgrown condition and cleared castle site, and early photographs of the Bailey Gate [AL0601]
  • property file containing 74 drawings and plans of the castle and Bailey Gate, including excavation drawings of the mid-1970s [PF/CAA].

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed in the online catalogue, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archives price list.

Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service

Norfolk Museums hold a number of historic views, including:

  • Anon, ‘Ruins of Castle Acre Castle’, etching (mid-19th-century) (NMAS ref TC17243)
  • Anon, ‘Keep of Castleacre – moonlight view’, c 1840, published by JS Gowing, Swaffham (ref TC17249)

Published Drawings

Buck, N and Buck, S, ‘The South View of Castle-Acre, in the County of Norfolk’, 1738, published in Buck’s Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above four hundred Castles, Monasteries, Palaces, &c. &c. in England and Wales. With one hundred views of Cities and Chief Towns, vol I (London, 1774), plate 197

Hearne, T and Byrne, W, ‘View of the castle at Castle Acre’, 1781, in Antiquities of Great-Britain, Illustrated in Views of Monasteries, Castles, and Churches Now Existing, engraved from Drawings made by Thomas Hearne (London, 1786), no. xxxii

Secondary Sources

Antiquarian Accounts

Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, with continuation by C Parkin, 11 vols (London, 1805–10), vol 8 [accessed 19 October 2012]

Bloom, JH, Notices, Historical and Antiquarian, of the Castle and Priory at Castleacre (London, 1843) [accessed 19 October 2012]

Watson, J, Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey, 2 vols (Warrington, 1782) [vol 1 available online; accessed 19 October 2012]

Other Books and Articles

Anderson, F, ‘The Tournai marble sculptures of Lewes Priory’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, 122 (1984), 85–100

Anderson, F, ‘“Uxor mea”: the first wife of the first William of Warenne’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, 130 (1992), 107–29

Coad, J, ‘Excavations at Castle Acre, Norfolk, 1972–76: an interim report’, Château Gaillard, 8 (1976), 76–86

Coad, J, ‘Recent work at Castle Acre Castle’, Château Gaillard, 11 (1983), 55–67

Coad, J, Castle Acre Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1984)

Coad, J and Coppack, G, Castle Acre Castle and Priory, Norfolk (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1998)

Coad, J and Streeten, A, ‘Excavations at Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk, 1972–77’, Archaeological Journal, 139 (1982), 138–301

Coad, J, Streeten, A and Warmington, R, ‘Excavations at Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk, 1975–82: the bridges, lime-kilns and eastern gatehouse’, Archaeological Journal, 144 (1987), 256–308

Dixon, P and Marshall, P, ‘The great tower in the 12th century: the case of Norham Castle’, Archaeological Journal, 150 (1993), 410–32

Garry, M, Castle Acre: History and Village Guide (Castle Acre, 2001)

Gough, H, The Itinerary of Edward the First Throughout His Reign, AD 1272–1307, 2 vols (Paisley, 1900) [accessed 22 October 2012]

Harper-Bill, C (ed), Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge, 2005)

Harrod, H, Gleanings among the Castles and Convents of Norfolk (Norwich, 1872), 97–124 [accessed 22 October 2012]

Impey, E, Castle Acre Priory and Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2008) [buy the guidebook]

Lewis, CP, ‘The earldom of Surrey and the date of Domesday Book’, Historical Research, 63 (1990), 329–36 [subscription required; accessed 22 October 2012]

Lewis, CP, ‘Warenne, William (I) de, first earl of Surrey (d 1088)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 30 October 2012]

Liddiard, R, ‘Castle Rising, Norfolk: “A Landscape of Lordship”’, Anglo-Norman Studies XXII: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1999, ed C Harper-Bill (Woodbridge, 1999), 169–86

Liddiard, R, ‘Landscapes of Lordship’: Norman Castles and the Countryside in Medieval Norfolk, 1066–1200, BAR British Series, 309 (Oxford, 2000)

Liddiard, R, Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape, 1066 to 1500 (Oxford, 2005)

Liddiard, R, ‘The castle landscapes of Anglo-Norman East Anglia: a regional perspective’, in Medieval East Anglia, ed C Harper-Bill (Woodbridge, 2005), 33–51

Loyd, LC, ‘The origin of the family of Warenne’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 31 (1933), 97–133

Powicke, M, The Thirteenth Century, 1216–1307 (Oxford, 1953)

Unpublished Work

Impey, E, 2008, footnoted/referenced text, with sources, bibliography and selected documents, of the English Heritage guidebook [copy available from English Heritage Library]


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