Weeting Castle moated site and 12th century manor house with post-medieval ice house
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014779
Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981
Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Breckland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TL 77808 89132
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.
The moated site of Weeting Castle survives very well, and the remains of the hall within it constitute a rare surviving example of a high status 12th century manor house built in stone. The standing walls of the building display a variety of features which allow of the organisation and life of a noble household of the period to be reconstructed and limited excavations have confirmed that buried features, which will include evidence for structures and activities relating to the occupation of the hall, as well as for earlier occupation of the site, are preserved below the surface of the moated platform. The location of the moated site adjacent to Weeting parish church typifies the close interrelationship between ecclesiastical and secular power in the medieval period. At a much later date the moated site was incorporated, apparently as an ornamental feature, into the grounds of Weeting Hall, and this ornamental reuse is also of interest. The ice house, which is largely intact and a very good example of its type, is of particular interest in this later context.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the earthwork moated site and the ruins of the 12th
century hall house known as Weeting Castle, together with buried remains
relating to earlier occupation of the site during the 10th or 11th century and
a post-medieval ice house which stands in the north west corner of the moated
island. It is located c.750m north of the centre of the village of Weeting,
c.82m ESE of the parish Church of St Mary and c.430m NNE of the remains of the
ruined Church of All Saints, and was formerly within the grounds of Weeting
Hall (now demolished).
The moated site is sub rectangular in plan and has maximum overall dimensions of c.105m north-south by c.79m east west. The moat, which is now dry except for a few months in winter, remains open to a depth of c.2m and measures up to 10m in width. It surrounds a central island raised c.0.4m above the external ground level and with internal dimensions of c.85m north-south by c.60m east- west. Access across the moat will have been provided originally by a bridge, probably of timber, which no longer survives above ground, although it is likely that evidence for it will be preserved below the present surface. The western arm of the moat is now crossed by a modern bridge, and at the western end of the northern arm is a dished earthen causeway which is not original but was possibly constructed as a means of access to the ice house standing opposite. A drain issues into the north western angle of the moat through a low brick retaining wall, and on the outer edge of the western arm can be seen the remains of an outlet channel c.5m wide. The latter continues eastward as a buried feature and connects with a rectilinear network of buried field ditches which are not included in the scheduling.
The remains of the medieval hall house stand in the middle of the southern half of the island. The ruined walls, which are constructed of mortared flint rubble with stone dressings, define a rectangular building with external dimensions of 30.3m north-south by 14.3m east-west, containing a central aisled hall with service room or rooms to the north and a tower of three storeys to the south. A narrower range, at least two storeys in height and measuring 6.1m in width externally, extends southwards from the tower towards the moat. Limited excavations on the site have revealed that the hall was originally free standing and was demolished and rebuilt from foundation level when the tower was added. Parts of the walls of the southern tower, including the wall which forms the southern end of the hall, stand three storeys high, and the wall at the northern end of the hall stands to a height of up to 3m, but only the footings of the lateral walls of the hall and service end remain visible. The line of the northern wall of the service end is marked by an earthen bank over masonry foundations.
The aisled hall, which was the public and administrative centre of the manor, has internal measurements of c.14.7m north-south by c.12m, with walls up to 1m thick. The arcades which divided the central space from the aisles to east and west are no longer visible above ground, but the outlines of the responds (supporting half pillars bonded to the wall) and arches of the vault, rising to a height of two storeys, can still be seen on the face of the south wall where the worked stone has been removed, leaving only a few framents of ashlar. At the foot of the same wall, below the arches, is the mortared flint base of a rectangular dais where the high table would have been set, and along each of the side walls is a masonry plinth or narrow bench c.0.2m in height. The service apartment to the north of the hall has internal measurements of c.12m east-west by 3.4m.
The tower to the south was strongly built, with walls c.1.7m thick above a chamfered ashlar plinth, parts of which remain in place on the outer face of the south wall and around the south eastern angle. Within the tower, on the ground floor, are the remains of a vaulted undercroft of three bays on either side of a central east-west arcade which no longer survives above ground. The outlines of round arches where the vaulting was keyed into the internal face of the walls are, however, visible on the north, south and west sides together with the remains at the foot of the walls of some of the ashlar bases of the responds which supported the springing of the arches of the vault. In the western part of the south wall are traces of two internally splayed window openings, with a third adjacent in the west wall. Part of a door opening with stone jambs, probably leading to a now vanished stair in the thickness of the wall angle, is preserved at the northern end of the west wall.
Above the undercroft are the remains of the solar (private living room) including the chimney of a fireplace in the south wall, with a window opening in a wide, arched recess to the west of it, and a corresponding blind recess to the east. The east wall does not survive at this level, but the parts of the west wall which still stand incorporate the north and south ends of a narrow, tunnel vaulted passage or chamber in the thickness of the wall. Only fragments of the north and south walls of the tower still stand to the level of the third storey, but the floor level of the upper chamber is marked by an offset in the north wall, with rectangular sockets for substantial north-south joists below.
The narrower range which projects from the western end of the south wall of the tower includes an undercroft at ground level with internal dimensions of c.4.4m north-south by 2.5m and, above this, the remains of a vaulted upper chamber. A pronounced offset in the walls marks the floor level of this upper room, and the stone springing of arches of the vault remain in place on the north and south walls. The east wall does not survive at this level, but the north wall is pierced by two narrow, round headed window openings with rectangular chamfered stone surround externally and wide internal splay.
Evidence for occupation of the site prior to the construction of the hall house was found during limited excavations below and around the tower and included the buried remains of three successive ditches, dated by finds of pottery of Saxo-Norman type and a coin of the later tenth century. One of the ditches contained a quantity of burnt daub, possibly from a timber building or buildings.
The manor of Weeting, which was in the possession of the de Warennes from the late 11th century, was held under them by the de Plaiz family from the early 12th century, in whose hands it remained until the late 14th century, when it passed by marriage to the Howards. It is thought that Weeting Castle, which has the character of a strong, high status manor house rather than a castle in the strict sense, was built around 1180 by Ralph de Plaiz.
The ice house in the north west corner of the moated site is probably 18th century in date and is presumed to relate to Weeting Hall, which lay c.255m to the west. It is constructed of brick and covered by an earthen mound c.2.4m in height and c.16m in diameter. The entrance is on the north side, facing the moat and comprises an outer doorway with cambered head, set in a brick retaining wall with buttresses to either side, and the jambs and arch of an inner doorway (for better insulation) within a tunnel vaulted passage c.2.5m in length. At the end of the passage is the arched opening to a domed ice chamber, now protected by a metal grille.
The fence surrounding the moated site and the entrance gate are not included in the scheduling, and the information board and the modern bridge across the moat are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 21411
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Harlech, , Ancient Monuments: East Anglia and the Midlands, (1957), 43,44
Margeson, S, Seillier, F, Rogerson, A, The Normans in Norfolk, (1994), 36
Renn, D F, Norman Castles in Britain, (1968)
Wilson, D M, Hurst, D G, 'Med Archaeol' in Weeting Castle, , Vol. 9, (1965), 190,191
Edwards,D (NAU), TL 7789/S/DCG9, TL7789/V/DCG12, (1986)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing