On the remains of a 41AD Roman Temple dedicated to Emperor Claudius, this Norman construction
was built c1075. It is believed to be
the work of Bishop Gundulf, himself an engineer,and is the largest stone keep in Britain, probably built in response to further Scandinavian invasions.
The keep was originally one storey high surrounded by ramparts but later, three more storeys were
added and the outer bailey extended to the north wall of the town.
It first belonged to Eudo de Rie, steward to William the Conqueror but on his death it reverted to the crown. Hamo St Clare was constable here in the 12th century after which the office passed to William de Lanvelei.
During the barons revolt of 1215 - 1217, rebels garrisoned the castle and held out against King John.
Shortly afterwards it became a prison and remained so for many years.
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