A castle was built soon after the Conquest on the site of the Iron Age hillfort either
by Ralph Gauder before 1075 or Roger Bigod after 1075. At 25m the motte was one
of the largest in the region. It is thought that a keep or other structure was built
on top, however, there is no evidence at the moment to prove this. Along with the
motte the northern banks were heightened and the ditches re-excavated.
The use of the castle was short-lived. It was dismantled in 1173 and by the 13th
Century, disused, with a market place, houses and a chapel making use of the former
Today the castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned and managed by Breckland
David Robertson, Historic Environment Officer for Norfolk County Council, gave a
guided tour of the impressive remains and explained the management and conservation
issues being faced by the Council. Currently the site is used as a recreation space
with open access to the motte, banks and ditches. Erosion scars from walkers and
cyclists, especially up the motte, are evident and becoming both a visual eyesore
and a heath and safety issue with concern about people slipping on their way down
from the top.
An option being considered is a fixed stair providing a single route to the currently
(currently there are three informal ways up). This will confine the area of erosion
and open up the top to a greater number of people.
Other concerns are the increasing amount of litter and how best to promote the history
of the site.
The 25m Norman motte through the trees (photo: M Coles)