Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles

 

The Norman Invasion & the Strategy of erecting Pre-Built Timber Castles
The Battle of Hastings in 1066 marked the end of the Anglo Saxon Kings of England and the Norman Invasion led by Duke William of Normandy who became King of England, also known as William the Conqueror. Duke William made careful plans for the Norman invasion. The Normans were great builders of castles and fully appreciated the great advantages that a castle would give to a fighting force. Stone Castles took too long to build so Duke William laid plans to build Norman Timber Castles when he mounted his invasion. The English did not possess a system of castles.

 
 
 
Motte and Bailey Castles
Castles Index 
Had the English built a Castle system based on the Norman model or maintained, or modernised, the Alfred the Great Burgh Castles then outcome of the Battle of Hastings might have been very different - Duke William of Normandy would have been forced to enter into Siege warfare costing time, money and heavy casualties. His army would have disintegrated and would inevitably been forced to return to Normandy!

Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles

Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles

  • The Norman Invasion of Anglo Saxon England in the Eleventh Century
  • The purpose of the Pre-Built Norman Timber Castles and their locations
  • Pre-Built Norman Timber Castles
  • Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles

The Norman Invaders brought Pre-Built Timber Castles!
Speed was of the essence to the Invasion plans of Duke William. The use of Timber Norman Castles would give him a considerable advantage over the unsuspecting English. To achieve his plans parts to make the wooden castles were pre-built! It was documented that the Norman Invasion fleet consisted of "700 ships less 4". It sailed from St.Valery in France. These ships were accompanied by skiffs and small boats which acted as ferries and landing vessels, bringing the number of vessels in the Norman fleet to nearly 3000. This idea was not new - the Romans used a similar system when building their wooden forts. The pre-constructed wooden castles were prepared as follows:

  • The timbers were cut to the correct sizes
  • Bolts were made in various sizes and used to fit the timbers together
  • These ' quick assembly castle kits ' were loaded on the Norman Invasion Fleet
  • Carpenters and builders formed part of the 1066 Norman Invasion fleet
  • The carpenters landed, with great axes in their hands, and planes and adzes hung at their sides
  • The famous Bayeux Tapestry illustrates this process!

The First Norman Pre-Built Timber Castle
The first pre-built Norman Wooden Castle was erected at Pevensey Bay. The site of an old Roman Fort on high ground was chosen for its construction. The Norman chroniclers described the erection of the castle at Pevensey as follows:

"They took counsel together, and looked for a good spot to build a castle on. They had brought with them in the fleet, three pre-built wooden castles from Normandy, all in pieces, ready for fitting together, and they took the materials of one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced to receive the pins which they had brought cut and ready in large barrels; and before evening had set in they had finished a good Castle on English ground, and placed their stores there. All then ate and drank, and were glad to be ashore."

A number of fighting men were ready to man the castle and to take on any attackers. The wooden Norman Castle was also used to safely store supplies and equipment together with their horses. As stated by the Norman chroniclers a total of three pre-built wooden castles were brought from Normandy.

The Purpose of the Norman Pre-Built Timber Castles
Although timber buildings could not be viewed as permanent castles they were of great temporary value and could be constructed very quickly. The purpose of the Timber Norman Castles were as follows:

  • To act as a fortified post to house cavalry
  • To provide a base where men, provisions and horses could be housed
  • To overawe and frighten the indigenous population
  • To provide a site from which the Normans could govern the surrounding district

The Norman Castles
So started the strategy of the Normans to build castles as their source of power in England. They initiated a programme of constructing more Timber built Castles called Motte and Bailey Castles which were then joined by the famous Norman Stone Castles of Medieval England

Norman Timber Castles

Motte and Bailey Castles
Motte and Bailey Castle Layout

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