Famous Motte and Bailey Castles

 

Famous Motte and Bailey Castles
William the Conqueror employed a strategy of quickly building a network of the famous wooden Motte and Bailey Castles. Timber Motte and Bailey Castles could not be viewed as permanent castles as the wood built on earth rotted quickly and they could easily be destroyed by fire. But they were of great temporary value! His aim was to build as many of these small castles as possible. A Motte and Bailey castle could be erected quickly - some only took a couple of weeks! It is believed that as many as 1000 Medieval Famous Motte and Bailey Castles were built in England by the Normans. The Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Chroniclers have provided us with much information about the famous Motte and Bailey Castles.

 
 
 
Motte and Bailey Castles
Castles Index 
Nobles and Officials covered England to find strategic sites to build the first wooden Famous Motte and Bailey Castles and these original fortifications have long since perished. However many of the initial wooden constructions of the Motte and Bailey Castles were fortified in stone and can still be seen in England today. The first fortification process was to raise the timber buildings on stone walls and once this was complete to entirely re-build the Castle Keep in stone.

Famous Motte and Bailey Castles

Famous Motte and Bailey Castles

  • Famous Motte and Bailey Castles in England, Wales and Scotland
  • Where were Famous Motte and Bailey Castles in English and Welsh situated?
  • What remains of the Famous Motte and Bailey Castles in England?

Locations of Famous Motte and Bailey Castles
The first of the famous Motte and Bailey Castles was built at Mont Glonme on the River Loire in France in 990. The location and sites of the Motte and Bailey Castle followed a pattern covering some, or all, of the following requirements and their layout was often modified according to their location:

  • They were built on the highest ground in the area
  • They often adjoined Rivers
  • They often overlooked Towns
  • They made use of existing sites of Roman or Saxon forts and Burhs
  • They overlooked harbours

Famous sites of the Motte and Bailey castles can be identified from these types of locations. A drive through the English countryside affords the opportunity to identify the sites of famous Motte and Bailey castles as there is the evidence of the huge mounds of earth, or Mottes, on which they were built.

The History of famous Motte and Bailey Castles
The History of the majority of famous Motte and Bailey Castles dates back to William the Conqueror and the Normans - but a few were built by Norman friends of Edward the Confessor before the Norman Invasion . It is interesting to note, however, that the actual sites of many of these famous timber Motte and Bailey castles housed fortresses from bygone times:

  • Hillforts were built during the Bronze and Iron Age on some of these famous sites
  • The Romans built their wooden forts on some of these famous sites
  • The Anglo Saxons built fortified townships, called Burhs, on these sites
  • Many of the original Motte and Bailey castles were replaced by stone castles

Famous Motte and Bailey Castles
The following list of locations and sites of famous Motte and Bailey in England and Wales are by no means exhaustive (approximately 1000 were believed to have been constructed) - but the list gives an indication of the range of the land which was covered by the Normans!
A list of the sites of famous and important Motte and Bailey Castles which were constructed during the Middle Ages, or Medieval era, in England and Wales are as follows:

  • Bickleigh Castle - Devon, England
  • Bramber Castle - West Sussex, England
  • Brecon Castle - Powys, Wales
  • Clare Castle - Suffolk
  • Clitheroe Castle - Lincs
  • Clun Castle - Salop
  • Coity Castle - Mid Glamorgan, Wales
  • Corfe Castle - Dorset (Original Anglo Saxon wooden tower built on a natural mound)
  • Crickhowell Castle - Powys, Wales
  • Ely Castle - Cambridge
  • Ewyas Harold Castle - Herefordshire - built by a Norman knight, Osbern Pentecost, a friend of Edward the Confessor before the Norman Invasion
  • Eye Castle - Suffolk
  • Norham Castle - Berwick, Scotland
  • Painscastle - Powys
  • Pickering Castle - North Yorkshire
  • Pleshey Castle - Essex
  • Richards Castle - Worcester - built by Norman friends of Edward the Confessor before the Norman Invasion
  • Shrewsbury Castle - Salop
  • Thetford Castle - Norfolk
  • Winchester Castle - Hants
  • York Castle - North Yorkshire
  • Bickleigh Castle - Devon
  • Bramber Castle - West Sussex

Famous English and Welsh Motte and Bailey Castles
Although the original Timber constructions have long since decayed the sites and locations of the Mottes are still obvious in the English and Welsh countryside. A few facts and some basic information about the history of the Motte and Bailey castles provide a fascinating insight into the history of famous castles.

Famous Motte and Bailey Castles

Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles
Motte and Bailey Castles
Motte and Bailey Castle Layout

Motte and Bailey Castles - Attack & Defence
Life in a Motte and Bailey Castle
Norman Medieval Stone Castles
Norman Castles
Castle Keep
Romanesque Architecture
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