The Norman William Malet built a Motte and Bailey castle in Eye when he took over most of the estates of the Saxon, Edric of Laxfield in 1068. This suggests that Eye may have been the centre of Edric’s extensive estates.
William’s son Robert succeeded him in 1071 and he strengthened the castle. He also created a market and 25 building plots for rent. These are listed in the Domesday Book account in 1086. He also built a deer park south east of the town and founded the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, 300 metres to the east of the church.
Little is known about the first castle, which may have been of the motte and bailey type, with a timber keep or tower on top.
Eye is unusual in having two mottes, with the remains of one next to Buckshorn Lane, and still known as the Mount. This could be the first motte, built by William and abandoned when the present motte was built.
The king seized control of the castle from the Malet family when they backed the losing side against him. He placed his own garrison there and funded repairs.
Entries in the Pipe Rolls (records of expenditure by the king) indicate there were regular works at the castle between 1163 and 1197, including the construction of three new palisades (timber fences), increasing the height of the walls and works to two bridges.
The castle was attacked by Hugh Bigod in 1173 and again during the Baron’s revolt of 1265.
The castle was damaged in the Great Storm of 1315.
By 1370 it was described as worthless.
What remained of the castle was pulled down in 1603, although it was in use as a prison up till that time.
Follow the route below to get to the next point in the Motte.