John Paston & the Siege of Caister Castle

When in 1469 Caister Castle came under siege by the Duke of Norfolk and his men, John Paston III was responsible for defending the castle with about 30 men. In the family records John Paston says that the Duke brought 3,000 men. That seems a very large number, and we think perhaps it is a bit exaggerated, but we can't be sure. Here John Paston tells the story from his point of view.

Once you've watched the video, try this interactive page.

Correct the Order The story has become muddled up - can you sort it out?

Here's some more interactive pages on castles.

Features of a motte and bailey castle Drag and drop the names of the features into place.
Where are these castles? See if you can find where these castles can be seen today.
Bricks in the Castle Wall Make some calculations on how many bricks are needed for the walls.

Below are some more materials for you to explore castles. The Information Sheets and Activity Sheets can be printed out for young learners. Click on the buttons on the right to download Info and Activity sheets.

You'll find Teachers' Notes and a Topic Map at the bottom of the list on this page, below the information and Activity sheets, which can be printed out for use with young learners If you use the Heraldry or Castles units in the classroom, you'll find a response page linked from the Teacher's Notes option.

What is a Castle? - Info01

An information sheet for Key Stage 2 (7-11-year-old) pupils which begins the process of thinking about what a castle is and introduces some words referring to parts of castles. Click the picture to download.

More About Castles - Info02

The second information sheet about castles tells us about two castles, and the way castles began to become luxurious homes as well as defended sites dominating the countryside. Click the picture to download.

Castles for Show - Info03

Over hundreds of years, castles remained places that could be defended, but they also became grand homes for the many Lords around England. Click the picture for an information sheet.

Grand Houses as Castles? - Info04

Castles were built as strongholds over several centuries, but some of the features of castles continued to be used, even when the owners really wanted a grand house for display. Click the picture on the right for the information sheet.

Castles - Early & Late? - Info05

While we generally think of castles in England as being like those built in Norman times, there are places from earlier times we call castles, and buildings in more recent times that are intended to act as castles. Click on the picture on the right to download the information sheet.

A Wooden Castle? - Act01

An activity sheet that asks the pupil to put in the names of the various parts of a wooden castle. Click the picture to download. This page is also available as an interactive on-screen page from the list under the video at the top of this page.

Where are these Castles? - Act02

This activity sheet has pictures of some English castles. The task is to use an atlas and see if the student can label the places correctly. Click the picture on the right to download.

Bricks in the Castle Wall - Act03

Caister Castle was one of the first brick castles to be built in England - and was reckoned to have nearly two million bricks. Click the picture on the right for some brick maths.

The Balance of Power - Act04

We can't be sure how many men the Duke of Norfolk brought to undertake the siege of Caister Castle - but they certainly outnumbered the defenders. Click the picture on the right for an Activity Sheet.

Build Your Own Castle - Act05

There's a huge variety of ways to build a toy castle - from sandcastles on the beach to elaborate kit models and lots of cardboard boxes. Here's a few ideas for starters, for the classroom or at home.

Defending the Castle Topic Map

Here's a Topic Map full of ideas for use in the classroom on the subject of 'Castles'. Click the picture on the right to download. Ideas range across the curriculum, for classroom and excursion use.

Teachers' Notes

Introductory notes for teachers wishing to use the resources provided on this page. Click the picture on the right to download the Teachers' Notes; we hope you'll find something from the Paston story that's useful to you. After use, we'd be pleased to have your response here.