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Weeting Castle moated site and 12th century manor house with post-medieval ice house

A Scheduled Monument in Weeting-with-Broomhill, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.4712 / 52°28'16"N

Longitude: 0.6163 / 0°36'58"E

OS Eastings: 577807.028572

OS Northings: 289133.392694

OS Grid: TL778891

Mapcode National: GBR QB5.0N1

Mapcode Global: VHJFN.M4PY

Entry Name: Weeting Castle moated site and 12th century manor house with post-medieval ice house

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 7 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014779

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21411

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Weeting-with-Broomhill

Built-Up Area: Weeting

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Weeting St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the earthwork moated site and the ruins of the 12th
century hall house known as Weeting Castle, together with buried remains
relating to earlier occupation of the site during the 10th or 11th century and
a post-medieval ice house which stands in the north west corner of the moated
island. It is located c.750m north of the centre of the village of Weeting,
c.82m ESE of the parish Church of St Mary and c.430m NNE of the remains of the
ruined Church of All Saints, and was formerly within the grounds of Weeting
Hall (now demolished).

The moated site is sub rectangular in plan and has maximum overall dimensions
of c.105m north-south by c.79m east west. The moat, which is now dry except
for a few months in winter, remains open to a depth of c.2m and measures up to
10m in width. It surrounds a central island raised c.0.4m above the external
ground level and with internal dimensions of c.85m north-south by c.60m east-
west. Access across the moat will have been provided originally by a bridge,
probably of timber, which no longer survives above ground, although it is
likely that evidence for it will be preserved below the present surface. The
western arm of the moat is now crossed by a modern bridge, and at the western
end of the northern arm is a dished earthen causeway which is not original but
was possibly constructed as a means of access to the ice house standing
opposite. A drain issues into the north western angle of the moat through a
low brick retaining wall, and on the outer edge of the western arm can be seen
the remains of an outlet channel c.5m wide. The latter continues eastward as a
buried feature and connects with a rectilinear network of buried field ditches
which are not included in the scheduling.

The remains of the medieval hall house stand in the middle of the southern
half of the island. The ruined walls, which are constructed of mortared flint
rubble with stone dressings, define a rectangular building with external
dimensions of 30.3m north-south by 14.3m east-west, containing a central
aisled hall with service room or rooms to the north and a tower of three
storeys to the south. A narrower range, at least two storeys in height and
measuring 6.1m in width externally, extends southwards from the tower towards
the moat. Limited excavations on the site have revealed that the hall was
originally free standing and was demolished and rebuilt from foundation level
when the tower was added. Parts of the walls of the southern tower, including
the wall which forms the southern end of the hall, stand three storeys high,
and the wall at the northern end of the hall stands to a height of up to 3m,
but only the footings of the lateral walls of the hall and service end remain
visible. The line of the northern wall of the service end is marked by an
earthen bank over masonry foundations.

The aisled hall, which was the public and administrative centre of the manor,
has internal measurements of c.14.7m north-south by c.12m, with walls up to 1m
thick. The arcades which divided the central space from the aisles to east and
west are no longer visible above ground, but the outlines of the responds
(supporting half pillars bonded to the wall) and arches of the vault, rising
to a height of two storeys, can still be seen on the face of the south wall
where the worked stone has been removed, leaving only a few framents of
ashlar. At the foot of the same wall, below the arches, is the mortared flint
base of a rectangular dais where the high table would have been set, and along
each of the side walls is a masonry plinth or narrow bench c.0.2m in height.
The service apartment to the north of the hall has internal measurements of
c.12m east-west by 3.4m.

The tower to the south was strongly built, with walls c.1.7m thick above a
chamfered ashlar plinth, parts of which remain in place on the outer face of
the south wall and around the south eastern angle. Within the tower, on the
ground floor, are the remains of a vaulted undercroft of three bays on either
side of a central east-west arcade which no longer survives above ground. The
outlines of round arches where the vaulting was keyed into the internal face
of the walls are, however, visible on the north, south and west sides together
with the remains at the foot of the walls of some of the ashlar bases of the
responds which supported the springing of the arches of the vault. In the
western part of the south wall are traces of two internally splayed window
openings, with a third adjacent in the west wall. Part of a door opening
with stone jambs, probably leading to a now vanished stair in the thickness of
the wall angle, is preserved at the northern end of the west wall.

Above the undercroft are the remains of the solar (private living room)
including the chimney of a fireplace in the south wall, with a window opening
in a wide, arched recess to the west of it, and a corresponding blind recess
to the east. The east wall does not survive at this level, but the parts of
the west wall which still stand incorporate the north and south ends of a
narrow, tunnel vaulted passage or chamber in the thickness of the wall. Only
fragments of the north and south walls of the tower still stand to the level
of the third storey, but the floor level of the upper chamber is marked by an
offset in the north wall, with rectangular sockets for substantial north-south
joists below.

The narrower range which projects from the western end of the south wall of
the tower includes an undercroft at ground level with internal dimensions of
c.4.4m north-south by 2.5m and, above this, the remains of a vaulted upper
chamber. A pronounced offset in the walls marks the floor level of this upper
room, and the stone springing of arches of the vault remain in place on the
north and south walls. The east wall does not survive at this level, but the
north wall is pierced by two narrow, round headed window openings with
rectangular chamfered stone surround externally and wide internal splay.

Evidence for occupation of the site prior to the construction of the hall
house was found during limited excavations below and around the tower and
included the buried remains of three successive ditches, dated by finds of
pottery of Saxo-Norman type and a coin of the later tenth century. One of the
ditches contained a quantity of burnt daub, possibly from a timber building or

The manor of Weeting, which was in the possession of the de Warennes from the
late 11th century, was held under them by the de Plaiz family from the early
12th century, in whose hands it remained until the late 14th century, when it
passed by marriage to the Howards. It is thought that Weeting Castle, which
has the character of a strong, high status manor house rather than a castle in
the strict sense, was built around 1180 by Ralph de Plaiz.

The ice house in the north west corner of the moated site is probably 18th
century in date and is presumed to relate to Weeting Hall, which lay c.255m to
the west. It is constructed of brick and covered by an earthen mound c.2.4m in
height and c.16m in diameter. The entrance is on the north side, facing the
moat and comprises an outer doorway with cambered head, set in a brick
retaining wall with buttresses to either side, and the jambs and arch of an
inner doorway (for better insulation) within a tunnel vaulted passage c.2.5m
in length. At the end of the passage is the arched opening to a domed ice
chamber, now protected by a metal grille.

The fence surrounding the moated site and the entrance gate are not included
in the scheduling, and the information board and the modern bridge across the
moat are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The moated site of Weeting Castle survives very well, and the remains of the
hall within it constitute a rare surviving example of a high status 12th
century manor house built in stone. The standing walls of the building
display a variety of features which allow of the organisation and life of a
noble household of the period to be reconstructed and limited excavations have
confirmed that buried features, which will include evidence for structures and
activities relating to the occupation of the hall, as well as for earlier
occupation of the site, are preserved below the surface of the moated
platform. The location of the moated site adjacent to Weeting parish church
typifies the close interrelationship between ecclesiastical and secular power
in the medieval period.
At a much later date the moated site was incorporated, apparently as an
ornamental feature, into the grounds of Weeting Hall, and this ornamental
reuse is also of interest. The ice house, which is largely intact and a very
good example of its type, is of particular interest in this later context.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Harlech, , Ancient Monuments: East Anglia and the Midlands, (1957), 43,44
Margeson, S, Seillier, F, Rogerson, A, The Normans in Norfolk, (1994), 36
Renn, D F, Norman Castles in Britain, (1968)
Wilson, D M, Hurst, D G, 'Med Archaeol' in Weeting Castle, , Vol. 9, (1965), 190,191
Edwards,D (NAU), TL 7789/S/DCG9, TL7789/V/DCG12, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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