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CASTLE HILL

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  THETFORD CASTLE
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A medieval motte and bailey castle constructed within an Iron Age enclosure (TL 88 SE 123). The castle is believed to have been constructed shortly after the Norman Conquest, either by Ralph Guader, Earl of East Anglia until his rebellion in 1076, or Roger Bigod, his successor as Earl. It was sited in a position to control important crossings of the rivers Thet and Ouse, as well as to dominate the town of Thetford which, at the time of the Domesday survey in the late 11th century, was among the six largest and most populous towns in the country. The motte is a large, circular mound of chalk, approximately 25 metres in height and 90 metres in diameter surrounded by a bank of chalk rubble 2 metres in height. The platform would have supported a timber tower, evidence for which will survive below the ground surface, and it is likely that the bank represents the footing of a wall or timber palisade. The base of the motte is encircled by a ditch about 18-20 metres wide which remains open to a depth of between 5 metres and 6 metres, and enclosing this on the north side is a very large double bank and ditch. Immediately to the east of the motte and its encircling ditch is an area of level, open ground bounded on the north side by a double bank and ditch which are contiguous with the earthworks to the north of the motte. A sketch plan of the earthworks drawn in the first half of the 18th century shows the inner bank extending east of Castle Lane and turning southwards to enclose a sub-rectangular bailey with estimated dimensions of about 105 metres WNW-ESE by up to 90 metres. This eastern part of the bank is no longer visible, having been levelled in 1772. The surviving inner bank on the north side of the bailey stands to a height of about 6 metres above the prevailing ground surface and the inner ditch remains open to a depth of 10 metres from the top of the bank. Scheduled.

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