The resplendent rectangular Keep of Castle Rising is situated five miles north of Kings Lynn in Norfolk. The structure has maintained a notably high level of preservation, with much of its ornate Norman architecture still intact. Built around 1140 by Henry Albini to celebrate his marriage, Castle Rising sits within some thirteen acres of impressive earthworks, at one time topped by curtain walls. Although the walls have long since vanished, with the exception of some fragmented sections, the Keep has survived remarkably well with its walls still standing to full height.
As well as the Great Tower, or Keep, the Inner Bailey consists of the foundations of an 11th century Norman chapel at the northern end, and the remains of a rectangular gatehouse on the eastern bank. Constructed about the same time as the Keep, the gatehouse stands largely ruinous today, with its upper level completely disappeared. The chapel built prior to the Keep, was abandoned and replaced during the 12th century during the construction of the present castle. The turretted Keep, traditionally providing residential accommodation, consists of a ground floor and two further floors above, with the Great Hall spanning the first and second floors.
Its 'claim to fame' is as the last home of Queen Isabella, the wayward wife of Edward II. At her trial, a few years after she murdered her husband at Berkeley Castle, she was banished to Castle Rising, where she spent the last thirty years of her life.
Castle Rising Castle does not have the dominance or imposing strength of, say, one of the massive Welsh fortresses, but it is still a very interesting place to visit, and its location in a pleasant rural village gives it an air of quiet importance. From an early 18th century painting of the castle showing ships in the background, it suggests that at one time the Castle Rising was accessible from the sea - today, the Wash is several miles away.