GREAT ASHFIELD CASTLE

Great Ashfield Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. Whilst little is known about its history, it may have been built to serve as the caput for Robert Blunt, a Norman who owned a parcel of estates in the region. It was never rebuilt in stone and would have been out of use by the fourteenth century.

History

 

Great Ashfield Castle was a motte-and-bailey fortification located a little under ten miles east of Bury St Edmunds. Very little is known about its history but it is assumed to date between the late eleventh and early fourteenth centuries when such structures were common. The Domesday survey of 1086 recorded Great Ashfield manor as a large, profitable settlement and named its post-Conquest owner as Robert Blunt. It may well have been Robert who built Great Ashfield Castle to serve as his caput and administrative centre particularly given its central location amongst his other estates (Domesday listed fifteen manors under his name mostly in the Blackburn and Hartismere areas). Great Ashfield was also probably chosen due to its proximity to an overland route between Bury St Edmunds and Eye Castle, the latter being the site of an important market from 1071 onwards.

 

The castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The flat-topped motte would have been topped by a wooden palisade whilst a water filled moat ran around its base. Fieldwork has suggested the moat may have been a later addition to the structure. Given its position on relatively flat terrain, the castle bailey could have existed on any side of the motte but the curved field boundaries to the south-east suggest one may have been located there. The castle does not seem to have been rebuilt in stone and probably was only occupied for a relatively short period.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Douglas, D.C and Greeaway, G.W (ed) (1981). English Historical Documents Vol 2 (1042-1189). Routledge, London.

Goodall, J. (2011). The English Castle 1066-1650. Yale University Press.

Historic England (1979). Castle Hill motte, List entry 1006012. Historic England, London.

Huscroft, R (2009). The Norman Conquest: A New Introduction. Pearson Education Limited, Harlow.

Renn, D.F (1973). Norman Castles of Britain. John Baker, London.

Page, W (1911). The Victoria History of Suffolk, Vol. 1. University of London, London.

Wall, J.C (1911). Ancient Earthworks.

What's There?

Great Ashfield Castle consists of an earthwork motte that is now heavily overgrown. It is in the middle of a cultivated field but a nearby public right of way allows a relatively close view of the site.

Motte. The motte is heavily overgrown.

All Saints Church. The church was contemporary with the castle and has some medieval fabric.

Getting There

Great Ashfield Castle can be accessed from a public right of way adjacent to All Saints Church off Elmswell Road. On-road car parking is possible on the side-roads within the village.

Car Parking Option

IP31 3HQ

52.271056N 0.924542E

Great Ashfield Castle

No Postcode

52.269647N 0.916948E