Weeting Castle

Weeting Castle is a scheduled national monument in the care of English Heritage. Scholarly interest in the building has been limited until recent years, when it was realised that it is one of the few remaining buildings of its type in the country.

Some archaeological exploration was carried out in the 1960's, followed by a survey in the 1990's commissioned by English Heritage. The archaeological evidence supports the proposal that a Saxon settlement originally occupied the site, as features from the 7th century have been found. This was followed by a building of flint and ashlar contruction that was taken over, or improved by the de Plais family in the twelfth century.

The ruins of Weeting Castle

Over the years it has had many owners, much that remains today is probably a mixture of the original and fourteenth century building. The moat is often thought of as a defensive device, but at Weeting it was probably constructed as a statement of status, to impress and used as a fishery. The drawing below shows how the house may have looked in the fourteenth century; a typical rendered flint building, with round-headed windows, all capped off by a reed thatched roof.

It is thought that the design was influenced by the early Norman country house (domus defensabilis) at Castle Acre. There would be two entrances to the west side, one by a door on the ground floor opening directly into the Great Hall, the other to the first floor living quarters, via a wooden staircase, used mainly by the womenfolk of the household. This area would have access to the Great Hall by two internal spiral staircases. There was probably a small window overlooking the Great Hall to enable the women to see and hear, what was going on. A large oriel window set into the outer south wall gave a splendid view over the countryside. The second floor would be used as a sleeping area. Both of these upper floors were heated by an open fireplace. The ground floor of this block would be given over to the storage of wine, food, corn etc; access for delivery by a door to the east of the building. The store could be entered by the two spiral staircases leading up to the living and sleeping areas. The Great Hall was the most important room in the establishment. The interior would be Romanesque in style, with ornate carved pillars and decorative stonework. On a raised dias at the south end, the high table would be placed, where the Lord would dine and entertain noble visitors. The walls would be decorated in colour and gold and hung with expensive tapestries, the floor covered in rushes. Heating would be provided by portable braziers. The castle would be the seat of local government and used as a courthouse to settle local disputes. The whole structure was built to impress, a statement of the owners power, wealth and standing. A section of the south end of the Great Hall would act as a service area on the ground floor and storage on the upper floor. To reduce the risk of fire a separate building to the north would house the food preparation, stillroom and kitchen. There must have been a stable block at the rear of the kitchen, probably of timber construction.

A reconstruction drawing of Weeting Castle


The castle is in the care of English Heritage and is open at all times. Limited parking is available.