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Castle Rising Castle

Visited June 2017

Location Castle Rising, Norfolk
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes 
Facilities Gift Shop,Toilets


Castle Rising in Norfolk is a Norman castle with impressive earthworks and a huge stone keep. Built in the 12th century by the d'Albini family, it is still owned by the Howard family, who are descendants of the original owner. 






The village of Rising was a small settlement when the Normans arrived in England. It had been built on land re-claimed from the sea, and as such had very poor soil for crops as it was too sandy. It is thought that this was one of the reasons the location was chosen for the castle. At the time of building, William d'Albini had married Alice of Louvain, the widow Henry I. This marriage brought him an increase in his status, and so his castle had to reflect that. It was modelled on the large square keep at Norwich Castle, which had been built by William II.





The castle today can be divided into three main points of interest. Firstly, the huge earthworks surrounding the keep, which can be walked around in their entirety. This includes the remains of the Norman Gatehouse which was built in around 1140. The earthworks are actually some of the highest in England, and were built in two phases. The original banks were about half the size but these were increased at the end of the twelfth century. Some masonry still remains on the top of the bank- at one time the whole castle would have been enclosed by walling.


The second point of interest is the ruins of an ancient church, which pre-dates the building of the castle. The church had actually completed disappeared under the earth from the ringwork but was excavated in the nineteenth century.


Thirdly is the main point of interest, the huge square keep. This was the main sign of the d'Albini wealth, and was highly decorated in carved stone, as well as white washed so it would have been visible for miles around. The keep is still in good condition today, with rooms on the ground, first and second floor open to visitors. The ground floor rooms have no windows so would have been dark and suitable mainly for storage. This is hard to imagine today as the roof is open to the sky so there is no lack of light. 


The first floor would have contained the great hall, the most important room of the castle. It would have been richly decorated with stone carvings and tapestries on the walls. The original entrance to the great hall was blocked up in the 16th century and turned into a fireplace. Also at this time a passageway was hacked through the stone wall of the castle to allow easier access to the castle kitchen, also on this floor. 

On the second floor is an upper chamber, thought to have been the rooms used by Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II, who was confined to the castle by her son Edward III for her part in the plot to depose and later murder her husband.





The castle is compact enough for a quick visit but also suitable for a longer outing if you want to see everything in greater detail. There is quite a lot of outside space for children to use and a run around the earthworks are good fun. There were loads of people there the day we went. There is no cafe, but refreshments are available in the village of Castle Rising. The toilet block is in the car park. Talking of car parks, the parking spaces go right up to the edge of the earth works, so make sure you stop in time so that you don't roll down into the ditch!





More info:  English Heritage Castle Rising Castle

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