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This prominent vantage point and strategic site was quickly recognised by the Normans, who built a huge timber fortress here by 1100 AD. In the years shortly after the Norman invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror is believed to have ordered defences to be built against a still hostile and rebellious native community.
The earliest record of a castle being on the outskirts of the settlement of Stafford occurs in 1102 when Henry I entrusted the castle and two hundred men-at-arms to William Pantalf. Historians think that the castle grew rapidly during the 1100s so that Robert de Toeni, Robert Stafford II referred not only to his castle but to his borough.
Watercolour painting of Stafford Castle in the nineteenth century.
© Trustees of the William Salt Library. By kind permission.
The castle is not in the manor of Stafford, but on the edge of an adjoining manor and had a small village grow up by it, now called Castle Church. It was a powerful timber castle in the twelfth century. In the mid fourteenth century a tower house, licensed in 1348, was built on the motte. This was destroyed during Civil War in the seventeenth century.
360°view of Stafford castle today
Stafford Castle Visitor Centre
Other Norman castles still standing
Tamworth : www.tamworthcastle.freeserve.co.uk
Tutbury : http://www.tutburycastle.com/
Other Norman castle remains
Alton Castle : A castle was in existence here by 1176, some of the remains are late twelfth century and there are additions of the first quarter of the thirteenth century.
Audley Castle Hill : A low flat-topped medieval motte surviving as an earthwork.
Biddulph Lea Forge : The ring work was originally built in the twelfth century and timber framed buildings were replaced in stone in the thirteenth century.
Caverswall Castle House : Rebuilt from a castle with a licence to crenellate in 1275.
Chartley Castle : Ruins of a large castle with a cylindrical tower surrounded by a towered curtain wall dating from the early 13th century.
Image of Chartley Castle. © Staffordshire Past Track. By kind permission.
Eccleshall Castle : A manor house fortified in 1200, used as a Palace by the Bishops of Lichfield, built on the site of an earlier moated fortification. It was badly damaged during the Civil War so a new manor house was built inside the old walls. One tower, the bridge and a few pieces of wall are all that remain of the original building.
Heighley Castle : Remains of a probable motte and bailey castle built in the twelfth century with thirteenth century additions.
Newcastle under Lyme Castle : Motte and bailey castle probably built during the eleventh century and first documented in 1149.
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