Castle Acre Castle is located in the village of Castle Acre, Norfolk which takes its name from the castle. It is a typical Norman large motte and bailey castle and was founded soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey, as his most important estate in Norfolk. It is placed near where the ancient trackway known as the Peddar’s Way crossed the River Nar.
The castle is surrounded by a ditch and an inner back which had a curtain wall built on top. The motte was enlarged and also had an outer curtain wall built on top a bank with the ruins of a large stone building. This building was at first a two storey residence and is thought to have been built around 1070. This was later enlarged with the original features buried beneath the later earthworks.
It was around 1140 that the house was converted into a keep, the motte enlarged and banked up and the curtain wall constructed. This did not last long with more modifications made, the keep was halved and the curtain wall was covered in earth raising the bank and a new wall built of solid flint.
Two gatehouses provided entry to the outer bailey and a wall was extended around the village which built up along side the castle. Digging in the outer bailey revealed the foundations of three buildings, it is thought that these were a great hall, a chapel and a kitchen. These may have replaced the house on the motte after it was converted into a keep.
In the 12th and 13th centuries the castle was used as an important administrative centre but eventually fell into ruin as the Warenne descendents spent less and less time at the castle and more time in court. The last of the Wearnnes died in 1347 and the castle was derelict by 1397. The castle changed hands a number of times until Sir Edward Coke bought the castle in 1615. It remained in the care of the Coke family until 1929 when the castle fell into state care and English Heritage took over in 1984.