Page images

CASTLE Acre, Norfolk (Fig. 12).—There can be no doubt that this castle existed in the 11th century, as William de Warenne mentions it in the charter of foundation of Lewes Priory, one of the most interesting and human of monastic charters. The earthworks still remaining of this castle are perhaps the finest castle earthworks in England; the banks enclosing the bailey are vast. The large and high motte carries a wall of Aint rubble, built outside and thus revetting the earthen bank which formed its first defence. In the small court thus enclosed (about 100 feet in diameter) the foundations of an oblong keep can be discerned. A very wide ditch surrounds the motte, and below it is a horse-shoe bailey, about 2 acres in extent, stretching down to the former swamps of the river Nar. On the east side of the motte is a small half-moon annexe, with its own ditch; this curious addition is to be found in several other motte castles, and is believed to have been a work intended to defend the approach, of the nature of a barbican. On the west side of the motte is the village of Castle Acre, enclosed in an oblong earthwork with an area of 10

This work now goes by the name of the Barbican, but probably this name has been extended to it from a barbican covering the castle entrance (of which entrance the ruins still remain). It is most likely that this enclosure was a burgus attached to the castle. Mr Harrod, who excavated the banks, found quantities of Roman pottery, which led him to think that the work was Roman; but as the pottery was all broken, it is more likely that the banks were thrown up on the site of some Roman villa. This earthwork has a northern 1 Mon. Ang., V., 12.



“ Castelli nostri de Acra." ? As at Burton, Mexborough, Lilbourne, and Castle Colwyn.

3 Harrod's Gleanings among the Castles and Convents of Norfolk. See also Arch. Journ., xlvi., 441.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

entrance in masonry, evidently of 13th century date; and as the scanty masonry remaining of the castle is similar in character, it is probably all of the same date. The area covered by the motte and the two original baileys is 33 acres ; that of the whole series of earthworks, 15 acres.

Acre was only a small manor in Saxon times; its value at the time of the Survey had risen from 51. to 9l."

CHEPSTOW (Estrighoel or Strigul), Monmouthshire.— Notwithstanding the fact that there is another castle of the name of Strigul about 9 miles from Chepstow (known also as Troggy Castle), it is clear that Chepstow is the castle meant by Domesday, as the entry speaks of ships going up the river, a thing impossible at Strigul. The castle occupies a narrow ridge, well defended by the river on one side, and on the other by a valley which separates it from the town. There are four wards, and the last and smallest of all seemed to the writer, when visiting the castle, to mark the site of a lowered motte. This opinion, however, is not shared by two competent observers, Mr Harold Sands and Mr Duncan Montgomerie, who had much ampler opportunities for studying the remains. This ward is now a barbican, and the masonry upon it belongs clearly to the 13th century; it occupies the highest ground in the castle, and is separated from the other wards, and from the ridge beyond it, by two ditches cut across the headland. The adjoining court must have belonged to the earliest

1 D. B., ii., 160b.

3 “Castellum de Estrighoiel fecit Willelmus comes, et ejus tempore reddebat 40 solidos, tantum de navibus in silvam euntibus." D. B., i., 162. Tanner has shown that while Chepstow was an alien priory of Cormeille, in Normandy, it is never spoken of by that name in the charters of Cormeille, but is always called Strigulia. Notitia Monastica, Monmouthshire. See also Marsh's Annals of Chepstow Castle.

part of the castle, as it contains a very remarkable early Norman building (splendidly restored in the 13th century) which is regarded by most authorities as the original hall of William FitzOsbern. It must, however, have combined both hall and keep, otherwise the castle was not provided with any citadel, if there was no motte. What is now the second ward has a Norman postern in the south wall, and may have been the bailey to the keep. All the other masonry is of the late Early English or the Perpendicular period, and the entrance ward is probably an addition of the 13th century. The shape of all the baileys is roughly quadrangular, except that of the fourth, which would be semicircular but for the towers which make corners to it. The whole area of the castle is if acres.

We are not told what the value of the manor was before William FitzOsbern built his castle there, but from the absence of this mention we may infer that the site was waste. It paid 40s. in his time from ships' dues, 161. in his son Earl Roger's time, and at the date of the Survey it paid the king 121. Chepstow was not

? the centre of a large soke, and it appears to have owed all its importance to the creation of William FitzOsbern's castle. CHESTER. - The

The statement of Ordericus, that William I. founded this castle on his return from his third visit to York, is sufficiently clear. The very valuable



of Mr E. W. Cox on Chester Castle

1 I must confess that in spite of very strong opposing opinions, I see no reason why this building should not be classed as a keep. It is of course a gross error to call Martin's Tower the keep ; it is only a mural tower.

2 D. B., 162, 1a.
3 “Cestriæ munitionem condidit.” P. 199 (Prévost's edition).
4 Chester Historical and Archæological Society, v., 239.

« PreviousContinue »