The Norman Tower was constructed in the period 1120 to 1148 under Abbot Anselm. It stands opposite the end of Churchgate Street, and in front of the west end of the abbey church. It served as a gateway to the abbey (completed in 1095) and the bell tower to the adjacent church of St James (now St Edmundsbury Cathedral).
Abbot Anselm was also responsible for the construction of the precinct wall, the church of St James, and the church of St Mary (at the south-west corner of the precinct).
The present ground level is well over the original street level. The tympanum over the western entrance was removed in 1789, and the battlements on the tower in 1842-46.
The Norman Tower, along with other parts of the abbey remains, is in the care of English Heritage.