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Motte & bailey

60 second histories

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A description of the early Norman castles, how the motte and bailey was constructed and mentions some of the first stone castles like Chepstow and Pevensey.

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William Duke of Normandy’s strategy, in his conquest of Britain, was to ensure that as he advanced into enemy territory he built strongholds, which he could then garrison with troops so that he always had somewhere to fall back on if he had a problem. Likewise he could also use them to build up strength to attack his enemies. The Normans started a massive castle building programme and built an amazing network of castles all over the land. At first only a few castles were made from stone like Chepstow in South Wales and of course Pevensey where they took over an old Roman fort. No, most of the early castles were what we call motte and bailey. A hill was constructed first of all; this was called the motte, it had a watchtower on it and a curtain wall all around. Then below that, usually on level ground, they built the bailey, which was where the people lived and went about their business. The whole lot was surrounded by wooden walls and surrounded by a moat or a deep ditch. Because they were made of wood, they could be built very quickly.
Norman Conquest
Buildings & Structures
Norman lady
Key words: 
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