As soon as the Normans landed in England, they began to construct a new type of building – the castle. Having chosen a defensive site, ditches were dug, soil piled up to form a mound, timber stakes sunken, and a tower built on top. Just such a construction can be seen on the Bayeux Tapestry. Soon, however, the Normans learnt that these earth and timber forts were not ideal. Wanting more security, and increasingly wealthy, they began to create a series of great stone castles across the country.
East Anglia is not known for its castles. Far from the wilds of the North and the Welsh Borders, its flat landscape remained relatively peaceful during the Middle Ages. One of the region’s few great castles was the stronghold of the Earls of Oxford, the De Veres: Castle Hedingham. Besieged twice, and abandoned in the eighteenth century, only the tower-keep remains. Though much restored, what survives is perhaps the most impressive keep in England, as the images in the RIBA collection reveal.