Castle Rising Norfolk
Photograph: B. H. Cox (1983)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection
In East Anglia, few castles can stand comparison with Hedingham Castle. The mighty keep at Castle Rising, Norfolk, is perhaps its greatest rival.
Begun in 1138, by the great Norman baron William d’Albini, Castle Rising was a costly construction. The keep is broad and squat, only three storeys high: here volume, not height was used to impress. Expensive materials were also used. The keep was built of finely-worked Barnack stone, transported here from many miles away in Northamptonshire. William d’Albini clearly had money, but then he had married King Henry the First’s widow, Alice of Louvain, and had received a string of titles and lands from the union. This keep was the home of a rich and shrewd man.
Perhaps this wealth, and royal connection, explains the magnificence of the building’s decoration? This is most conspicuous around the entrance block, the lower block attached to the keep, nearest the camera in this image. Highly decorated, its façades includes finely carved, inter-laced arches, diaper work and zigzag aches. Above these were once roundels housing monsters’ heads. Visitors to Castle Rising couldn’t help but be impressed by this ostentation, but would this have deterred intruders?