Great Yarmouth Castle and Town Wall, Norfolk…

Great Yarmouth Castle was constructed sometime during the medieval period, probably during the 12th Century. It was constructed out of stone and had four turrets and was likely a tower keep.

From the mid 16th Century, the castle was given to the town and was used as a gaol. During this period, it is thought it underwent some repairs on several occasions. By 1620 the castle was being dismantled. First the upper storey was removed, the stone was used in enclosing a gun platform, known as the Mount. In 1621, the rest of the castle was dismantled.

Great Yarmouth Castle is likely to have had a close association with the town’s wall. Though the castle is likely to have predated the construction of the town wall by over a century, the two would have no doubt been crucial had the town ever been attacked.

The town was granted permission in 1261 by Henry III to construct the town wall, though construction didn’t begin until 1284, during the reign of Edward I. It took until the end of the following century for the wall to be completed.

The town wall enclosed an area between the river rivers Bure and Yare. Constructed out of flint, brick, basal stone, and Caen stone from France, the wall enclosed an area of 538,232 square metres. A moat was also dug around the wall to offer an extra level of protection. The wall had 10 gates and 16 towers.

During the 16th Century, in the reign of Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk was instructed by the king to put the town’s defences into order. At this time the wall was improved, a rampart was constructed against the internal side of the wall and was continually improved during the mid-to-late 16th Century, ultimately being completed in 1587. Gun placements were also added at this time.

During the Civil War (1642-1651), the town was refortified. At this time, the moat was re-excavated. During the conflict, Yarmouth had declared for Parliament and the towers and gatehouses along the wall were used to house prisoners.

By the late 18th Century, the wall had ceased any defensive use. The moat had also been filled in.

Today, nothing of Great Yarmouth Castle can be evidenced, though large stone foundations and a floor were found during building work in the mid 1960s which are thought to be associated with the castle.

Large sections of Great Yarmouth Town Wall and 11 of its towers survive to this day and can be seen in the town.

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Advertisements

Burgh Castle, Norfolk..

Burgh Castle just outside of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk is the site of a Roman fort that was later reused as, potentially, a Saxon monastery and then as a motte and bailey castle after the Norman invasion.

Originally built as one of a series of shore forts by the Romans to protect the east and south east of England, Burgh Castle’s walls were built around the year 300 and still stand to virtually to their original height, though some of the wall that did surround the site has now vanished due to erosion on the west side. Bastions were built along the wall and at the corners of the wall to improve its strength.

Between the years 630 and 900 AD it is possible that the site of Burgh Castle could have been used as a Anglo-Saxon monastery. During archaeological excavations in the 1950s and the 1960s, 160 burials and timber buildings were discovered. This monastery has been associated with St Fursey, though it is also possible that the nearby Roman fort at Caister was in fact the site of this monastery.

Following the Norman invasion of 1066 a small wooden castle was built at Burgh Castle making use of the earlier substantial Roman fortifications. In the south-west corner of the fort at Burgh Castle the Normans built a motte upon which a wooden keep or tower would have stood. The Normans also made other alterations to the Roman fort such as cutting a gap into the south wall in order to accommodate a ditch or moat to protect the castle.

There has been some later damage to the motte and fortifications due to modifications in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Access to Burgh Castle is free during any reasonable hour.

Burgh Castle Wall and Bastion
Burgh Castle Wall and Bastion
Burgh Castle Wall
Burgh Castle Wall
Interior Burgh Castle
Interior Burgh Castle