Castle Acre

An earthwork castle with a converted hall as a central keep. A quite eerie place to be.

Castle Acre

Looking across the earthworks [Enlarge]

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Castle Acre began life as a two story manor house erected by William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey, shortly after the Norman conquest. Initially this hall was surrounded by a simple ringwork bank. In around 1140 a motte was raised around the hall, the top being ringed by a stone wall remains of which are still visible. The hall itself was strengthened into a keep, though this process was never completed. The original intent was to produce a square tower dissected by a cross wall but only half was ever raised.

Acre Castle: Photograph of the low motte and ruinous keep

The low motte built around the now ruinous keep, which was originally a manor house. [Enlarge]

Acre Castle: Photograph earth bank surrounding the bailey, topped by a section of wall

A surviving section of curtain wall on top of the earth bank which surrounds the bailey. [Enlarge]

The Bailey is enclosed by impressive high earth banks, which were themselves topped by a stone wall. A well preserved section of this wall still exists. The castle also sported a gatehouse now evidenced only by its remaining ruins.

On the rise of Henry II to the throne the keep was destroyed, presumably as an adulterine castle. Much of the rest seems to have been left however until the castle was abandoned following the death of the last Warenne Earl in 1347.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Castle Acre today is not so much it's remains but the sense of power one feels despite the lack of physical remnants seen at other castles. It's relative isolation (a sense of which was helped by the fact that we seemed to be virtually the only visitors at the time) means that standing amoungst its protective banks one feels as if the world really is held at bay. It gives a homely sense, but in a way such fortifications of the time were designed to. When the world around is slightly mad one can shut the windows on the night and hide behind the banks and walls. By many standards there is not much there, nor was there ever, but it is a castle I like.

Acre Castle: Photograph of a view into the bailey

A view looking into the bailey giving a fell of the sense of enclosure [Enlarge]

Acre Castle: Photograph of remains of the gatehouse

The remains of the gatehouse which once guarded the castle's entrance [Enlarge]


Castle Website

Acre Castle: Photograph of ditch around the exterior of the bailey rampart

The protective ditch on the outer side of the earth banks [Enlarge]

Acre Castle: Photograph of the bailey

A view of the bailey showing what few signs remain of its former occupation [Enlarge]

Acre Castle: Photograph of the keep, showing the thickening of the original walls

The remains of the keep, showing the thickening of the original walls and how it was only half completed [Enlarge]

Acre Castle: Photograph of the keep showing a blocked window from the original manor house

A section of the keep wall. Note the blocked window, from the original manor house, indicated by the sign [Enlarge]

Photograph Gallery (yet more photos!)