Castle Rising: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Castle Rising.

  • Castle Rising is located in the village of Castle Rising, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

  • The castle was constructed by William d’Aubigny II, Earl of Arundel in 1138
  • It was designed to be fortress combined with a hunting lodge. It’s location was not of massive strategic importance, but the site did allow for a large hunting park to be established.
  • In the 12th century, Castle Rising would probably have been mainly accessed by boat via Babingley River.
  • Castle Rising had three baileys and a stone keep. A Norman chapel, already on the site, was protected by the castle’s defences.
  • Castle Rising was the residence of Queen Isabella of France from the early 1330s to her death in 1358.
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, Castle Rising was owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and became popular as hunting location. Mary Tudor visited the castle during this period.
  • By the early to mid-16th century, Castle Rising was becoming a ruin. The roof had collapsed and floors of the great hall were in disrepair.

Castle Rising

  • In 1544, Henry VIII gave the castle to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.
  • By 1570, huge rabbit warrens had damaged the castle’s earthworks, and, in time most of the buildings were removed, leaving only the ruined stone keep.
  • In 1822, restoration work was carried out on the stonework of the keep and the ground of the inner keep was stripped to its original level.
  • During the 1970s, archaeological work was carried out on the site.
  • In 1983 English Heritage took over the site. It has been classified as an Ancient Monument under UK law.
  • Castle Rising’s earthworks covered an area of 12 acres.
  • The Norman chapel, located on the north side of the inner bailey. Its roof was made from Roman tiles from local villas.
  • Castle Rising’s stone keep is similar in appearance to the Norman keep of Norwich Castle.
  • There are several carvings of cats throughout Castle Rising. It is thought that this shows a connection to Felix, the First Bishop of East Anglia.

What next? Learn more facts about castles.

Colchester Castle: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Colchester Castle.

  • Colchester Castle is an almost complete Norman castle, dating from the 11th century. It is located in the town of Colchester in Essex, about 80 km north-east of London.

  • Colchester was once the capital of Roman Britain and is believed to be England’s oldest town. The Romans built a 2,800 metre long wall around the town, which can still be seen today.
  • The castle’s main keep measures 46 by 34 metres and is the largest in Britain. It was at one time 4 storeys high although it has been lowered over time as the stone has been recycled into other local buildings.
  • William the Conqueror ordered the castle to be built, and it was constructed between 1069 and 1100. Construction stopped in 1080 because of threats of a Viking invasion.
  • Colchester Castle was built over an old Roman temple. Parts of the castle were built with tiles and stone taken from the temple and other nearby Roman ruins.

Colchester Castle

  • Colchester Castle experienced little military action during its history. In 1215 King John attacked the castle, an incident which led to the famous Magna Carta being signed.
  • Two Royalist leaders were executed behind the castle during the second English Civil War in the 17th century. According to a local legend, grass never grows in that spot.
  • During the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle was used as a jail, as well as for storing grain. In the 1740s, a local Member of Parliament bought the castle and created the gardens surrounding it.
  • The gardens surrounding the castle attract over a million visitors each year. Some of the landscaping and layout of the 25 hectare park is still unchanged from Roman times.
  • Colchester Castle became a museum in 1860. The displays include gold coins which date from pre-Roman times, and a beautifully decorated pot known as the Colchester Vase.

What next? Discover some more facts about castles in Britain, or learn about the features of a castle.

Stone Keep Castle Facts

Here are some facts about stone keep castles.

  • Stone keep castles were built all over Medieval England, many by William the Conqueror. They replaced the many wooden castles that had been built, and were designed for strength and security.

  • They were first built in France during the 10th and 11th centuries, and the idea was brought to England. Stone from France was often used in the construction of the stone keeps.
  • Most stone keep castles had kitchens on the ground floor and living quarters on the top floors. At first they were rectangular and then later designs were circular.
  • The stone keep, or tower, was the heart of the castle. As well as being built for defence, it meant that rooms could be larger and more luxurious, often with fireplaces.
  • Stone keep castles offered much better defence than the wooden castles which were built before them. They had thick and strong walls, a drawbridge and were defended by a moat or ditch.
  • These stone castles were expensive to build, and their construction often took several years.
  • Many of the most well known castles in England are stone keep castles. Over 80 were built, including Windsor Castle, Lincoln Castle, Nottingham Castle and Warwick Castle.
  • The White Tower at the Tower of London is one of the most famous stone keeps. The tower is 27 metres high and over the centuries has been used as a prison, armoury, treasury and Royal Mint.
  • Another well preserved example of a stone keep is Dover Castle. It was built in the 12th century and has underground tunnels dating from the Napoleonic wars.
  • Dover Castle was also one of the most expensive stone castles to be built. King Henry II spent about 30 percent of his income on simply renovating and looking after it.

What next? Discover more castle facts by visiting our castles resources page.