Monument record BUN 004 - Bungay Castle

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Important Medieval castle to AD 1362, associated with Bigod family of Norfolk - Scheduled Monument.


Grid reference Centred TM 335 897 (168m by 113m)
Map sheet TM38NW


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

Important Med castle to AD 1362, associated with Bigod family of Norfolk.
(S2) contains a history of Bungay and particularly the castle, the Bigod family and other owners, a description of the castle and the 1934 excavations:- Noman motte and bailey, keep and earthworks. Taken by Stephen circa 1150. Mine gallery 1174. Use as a castle lapsed till 1294 licence to crenellate. Also built twin towered gatehouse, refaced keep and inserted four windows on ground floor. Its day ended, to all intents, with the death of Edward de Montacute in 1362. By 1382 "old and ruinous". Some indication that the castle was occupied and perhaps even repaired during C15 (S2). Part scheduled. Excavation circa 1890 described (S1).
1933, Feoffees of Bungay leased it from the Duke of Norfolk. Site cleared. 1934-1935 excavation (S2). Material from 1934 excavation in Ipswich Museum, a selection of rims probably in the British Museum. Used as dating evidence by G Dunning (R1). C13-C16 sherds (S3).
Originally an earthen motte and bailey castle surrounded by wooden palisades. A stone keep with walls 18 feet thick and some 90 feet high was built on the motte about 1164, and a stone curtain wall replaced the palisade around the bailey. In 1294 an octagonal curtain wall round the keep, a gatehouse and drawbridge were built. The two round towers which defended the drawbridge on the W side still stand. On the S side of the keep are remains of the forebuilding, one of the largest in England. The inner bailey was on the W and at a much later date a large outer bailey surrounded by a deep ditch was added on the S. The ruined keep, parts of the inner bailey ramparts on W and S, and part of the outer bailey earthworks, which are known as "Castle Hills" remain. The main buildings were surrounded by a deep wide moat but the site as a whole has been mutilated by development (S5)(quoting (R2)). Hugh Bigod's castle was captured by the Crown in 1140 but he had regained it by 1166. Its destruction in 1174 is debatable as is the attribution of the curtain walls to the licence to crenellate in 1294.
The military and political history of East Anglia in the Middle Ages cannot be told without reference to Bungay Castle, after Framlingham the chief residence of the Bigod Earls, the most powerful family in the region. Further structural details in (S6).
Many planning applications of area suggested necessity for further scheduling. Scheduled area extended 13 July 1982 (S6).
1990: Geophysical survey (R7).
1991: Said to be falling. Castle trust formed with SPS help. Repairs to begin 2.2.91 (S7).
See also "Castle Hills", BUN 012.
Interesting account of Bungay Castle in 1829 in the Woodward Correspondence, volume 3 (1829), in Norwich Castle (S4).
Dec 2005: Photographs of possible surival of the tinner ward wall behind garage to the rear of 23 Earsham Street (S9)
March 2008: site visit (Robert Carr) identified circa 1m length of Medieval 'in situ' N-S flint walling in land parcel SW of the inner bailey (TM 33488 89691) - report in parish file (S8).

2017:Magnetometry, earth resistivity, and ground penetrating radar identified a narrow range of geophysical anomalies that have significant archaeological potential, including in-situ strictural remains that may include walls, floors, and a potential well. Anomlaies indicative of robbed-out or service trench runs, rubbish pits or geological deposits, demolition or levelling deposits and an extant Tarmacadam drive were further prospected (S10)(S11).
Earthworks visible on Lidar. See associated files.

Sources/Archives (23)

  • <S1> (No record type): Raven Rev J J, Notes on recent excavations at Bungay Castle, PSIA, 7, 1890, (2), 212-213.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file : Bungay Castle guide (three versions), planning permission.
  • <R1> (No record type): Dunning G, Notes on the pottery from Bungay Castle, PSIA, 22, 1936, (3), 335 (ill).
  • <S2> (No record type): Braun H, Some Notes on Bungay Castle, PSIA, 22, 1934, (1), 109-119 (ill).
  • <M2> (No record type): documents, SAM documents, conservation area documents, NAU letter 26/9/1978.
  • <R2> (No record type): Dickinson P M G, Little guide to Suffolk, sixth edition, 1957, 91-93.
  • <R3> (No record type): Braun H, Bungay Castle, PSIA, 22, 1935, 201-223.
  • <M3> (No record type): APs: NAU TM 330 896, 1974, TM 335 895, 1974, AXC 24-25, AXC 30; SAU ADD 15.
  • <S3> Index: Ipswich Museum. IPSMG card. IPSMG, card Bungay (Castle) Medieval, undated & card 1947-178.
  • <S4> (No record type): NAU (Rose Edwin J), letter to Ashbee P, 26 September 1978.
  • <M4> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <R4> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA, 7, 1890, 212-213.
  • <R5> (No record type): Mann, E.. Mann E, 1934, Old Bungay, 32.
  • <S5> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TM38NW15, 1978.
  • <R6> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA, 22, 1934, 109-119.
  • <S6> Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Scheduling information.
  • <S7> Unpublished document: Suffolk Preservation Society. 1991. Suffolk Preservation Society Survey. Suff Pres Soc Survey, 1991.
  • <S7> (No record type): Suffolk Preservation Society, 1991.
  • <R7> (No record type): Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, Report on Geophysical Survey: Bungay Castle, Rep 90/60, August 199.
  • <S8> Unpublished document: Suffolk County Council Archaeologcial Service. Site Report. Carr RD (SCCAS), March 2008.
  • <S9> Photograph: Carr R D. 2005. Photograph of Bungay Castle Wall at 23 Earsham Street. Digital Aps.
  • <S10> Unpublished document: Schofield, T.. 2017. Geophysical Survey Report: Bungay Castle, Bungay.
  • <S11> Article in serial: Minter, F. and Saunders, A.. 2018. Archaeology in Suffolk 2017, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Sep 21 2020 11:32AM

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