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Caister Castle

A Scheduled Monument in West Caister, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6504 / 52°39'1"N

Longitude: 1.7016 / 1°42'5"E

OS Eastings: 650473.488009

OS Northings: 312287.286353

OS Grid: TG504122

Mapcode National: GBR YQ1.YV2

Mapcode Global: WHNVS.3MJZ

Entry Name: Caister Castle

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 13 May 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002882

English Heritage Legacy ID: NF 1

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: West Caister

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Caister-on-Sea Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


C15 moated enclosure castle built for Sir John Fastolf.

Source: Historic England


Caister Castle is located at West Caister, just north of Great Yarmouth and 2.5km inland from the coast. The C15 moated brick castle survives as upstanding, earthwork and buried remains, and covers approximately six acres. The upstanding remains of Caister Castle are listed at Grade I.

The castle consists of a ruinous principal court to the south-west and a service court to the north-east, surrounded by a roughly rectangular water-filled moat which encloses a central platform measuring approximately 172m by 78m. Evidence of its inner edge and some of the eastern outer wall survives as a rubble flint core with facing brick; and although no evidence was seen of the other retaining walls on the outer edges of the moat during the recent site inspection, it is reasonable to assume that they survive. The south-east arm of the moat surrounding the principal court has been dug out on the inner side by approximately 10m. A modern round brick filtering structure is located in the north-east arm of the moat. On the bank of the north-east corner is a C19 single-storey lodge constructed of red brick with a C20 extension. Modern footbridges with concrete decks provide access over the north arm of the moat to the service court, and over the south-west arm through the gatehouse to the principal court. The moat spurs that originally divided the two courts (before being filled in during the C19) are visible on aerial photographs as shallow earthworks and parchmarks.

The upstanding remains comprise parts of the south-west and north-west walls and tower of the principal court, and the north-east and south-east walls of the service court. These are constructed in brick of various hues, from pink and pale yellow to deep purple, measuring in general about 21.5cm by 11cm by 5cm. The late C14/ early C15 brickwork in the service court is relatively poor quality compared to the technical sophistication of that in the principal court, particularly in the great tower. The dressings at the quoins and apertures are stone. The north-east and south-east walls of the service court have two-storey round towers at the corners and brick buttresses to the exterior. At intervals there are splayed arrow slits with timber lintels. A rectangular concrete standing, which formerly supported a shed (since demolished) abuts the north-east wall.

In the principal court, the six-storey circular west tower rises at the junction of the north-west and south-west ranges. It has a polygonal stair-turret rising above the parapet on the south side. The ground floor has a two-light Perpendicular dais window (mostly bricked up) with the remains of a tierceron vault and the other floors are lit by rectangular windows. The tower has machicolations to the parapet. The brick staircase and the moulded handrail cut into the wall have been removed above the first floor which is now accessed via a C20 timber winder stair. None of the floors remain and the top of the tower has been ceiled over in timber.

To the north-east of the tower there is a four-storey rectangular block immediately behind the north gable end of the hall providing access to each floor of the hall. In the gable end is the remains of a ground-floor fireplace, later converted to pigeon nesting boxes. The hall runs south-east from the tower for seven bays and had three or four storeys, the lower two forming the great hall with Fastolf’s Domo Superiori above. The outer wall of the hall has a deeply stepped corbel table reminiscent of inverted pyramids. At the south end of the hall is the two-storey gatehouse, probably a replacement of the original built after the siege by the Duke of Norfolk. It has a four-centred arch within a square surround right of centre, and a four-centred arch window opening above. To the left is a guard room, and to the right the wall continues south to a corner turret of two storeys which has a corbel table of grotesques, apparently re-used ecclesiastical work.

The north-west wall of the principal court is two storeys high before crumbling down to the ground over a length of approximately 37m. The inner side has a set-off above a series of relieving arches which may indicate cellars, and there are two splayed rectangular windows. The outer side also has a set-off and a stepped corbel table which supports an arcade under the eaves, probably with a machicolatary function.

The foundations of ranges that abutted the interior of the walls of the principal court have been raised with a few courses of brick laid in rat trap bond. Other remains of buried walls are visible as parchmarks on aerial photographs. The positions of the five turrets projecting from the south-east side of the principal court are indicated by mounds of earth. It is expected that the buried remains of the castle have survived well as there has been no erosion or removal of fabric.

The area of protection includes the complete rectangular moated site. There are a number of features which are excluded from the scheduling: the C19 lodge and attached wall on the bank of the north-east corner of the moat; the modern round brick filtering structure in the north-east arm of the moat; and the modern concrete footbridge over the south-west arm of the moat, although the ground beneath all of these features is included. The modern concrete footbridge over the north-west arm of the moat is also excluded, although the stone foundations that abut the inner wall of the moat are included as they may be the foundations of the original bridge. Further exclusions from the scheduling are all modern paths, track surfaces, fences and signs, although the ground beneath all of these is included.

There is considerable potential for undesignated (but potentially nationally important) remains to survive outside the scheduled area, particularly on the south-west side of the moat which is the site of the C15 barge yard and barge house.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Caister Castle, a C15 moated enclosure castle built for Sir John Fastolf, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: for the exceptional standing, buried and earthwork remains which depict the form, plan and architectural detail of the castle;

* Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the physical characteristics of the buildings. Buried artefacts and sediments have the potential to increase our knowledge of the social and military functioning of the castle within the wider medieval landscape;

* Documentation: for the historical documentation and understanding gained from recent scholarship pertaining to the castle’s history and evolution: notably the summary accounts covering the first three years of work between 1433 and 1436, which are an exceptional and rare survival;

* Diversity: for the range of features, such as the principal and outer courts, great tower, moat and gatehouse, which, taken as a whole, provide a plan of the castle and retain significant stratified deposits which illuminate its evolution;

* Architectural importance: for being one of the earliest brick residences to have been built in England, and the sophistication of the brickwork in the inner court, particularly in the great tower, which is exceptional. The castle incorporated many elements from both Lancastrian and continental buildings – such as the private tower, bath house, stacked lodgings and square window openings – emerging as a building of the most advanced style, taste and comfort;

* Historic association: for the association with Sir John Fastolf, the notable soldier and trusted associate of the Regent of France (whom he served between 1422 and 1435 as chief steward) and later with the Pastons;

* Group value: for the strong group value with the Grade II* listed Caister Hall which incorporates the associated C15 barge house.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Wilson, B, The Buildings of England: Norfolk: 1 Norwich and North-East, (2002)
Barnes, H D, Douglas Simpson, W, 'The Antiquaries Journal, Vol. 32, Issues 1-2, pp. 35-51' in Caister Castle, (April 1952)
Barrett, C R B , 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 2, 37-47' in Caister Castle and Sir John Fastolfe, K. G, (1896)
Alasdair Hawkyard, Sir John Fastolf’s ‘Gret mansion By Me Late Edified’: Caister Castle, Norfolk, The Fifteenth Century Volume V Of Mice and Men: Image, Belief and Regulation in Late Medieval England, edited Linda Clark, 2005, pp. 39-68,
David H. Kennett, Caister Castle, Norfolk, and the Transport of Brick AND other Building Materials in the Middle Ages, pp. 55-67, The Art, Science and Technology of Medieval Travel, edited by Robert Bork and Andrea Kann (2004) ,
NAU Archaeology, An Archaeological Watching Brief at Caister Castle Moat, Norfolk, August 2010,

Source: Historic England

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