The fact that the chronicler was reporting a new phenomenon is conveyed not only by his palpable outrage at the Frenchmen’s behaviour, but also by his need to borrow their word for the offending object: this is the first recorded use of ‘castle’ in English.

Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain by Marc Morris. But all of these structures differed from what followed in that they were large enclosures designed to protect sizeable communities including, in some cases, non-military personnel. The rapes run north-south, and their castles are all located near the coast, as if to keep the route between London and Normandy secure. Below is a table showing some examples of castles built shortly after the Norman Invasion of 1066 within or just outside the defensive walls of existing Saxon towns. From having almost no castles in the period before 1066, the country was quickly crowded with them. Townlands of Riverchapel-Courtown Harbour, Co. Wexford. This may be so, but it takes a considerable leap to conclude from this, as one historian has done, that the whole castle was “militarily ineffectual”. Stone Castles took so long to build that William laid plans to build Norman Timber Castles when he mounted his invasion. There are no reports of rebellions or military action in Essex during William’s reign, but the great tower he created in Colchester was erected on the ruins of the town’s Roman temple. The importance of castles in conquering England and subduing Wales, The Marcher lords were very powerful and had the authority of a king in their lands.

Why were castles so important to the Normans? According to one conservative modern estimate, based on the number of surviving earthworks, at least 500, and possibly closer to 1,000, had been constructed by the end of the 11th century – barely two generations since the Normans’ initial landing. To judge from buildings such as Chepstow, Colchester and the Tower of London, it was a comparison that the king himself was keen to cultivate. The notion that castles had little military purpose also requires us to ignore the testimony of contemporary chroniclers. “The foreigners had built a castle in Herefordshire,” says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1051, “and had inflicted every possible injury and insult upon the king’s men in those parts”. Please, no obvious or joke answers, I'm trying to help him as he's struggling, thanks! The Irish had built castles before the Normans arrived in 1169, but what they looked like we know not. In 1066, as everybody knows, the Normans invaded England. The keep of Carrickfergus Castle, Co. Antrim. In recent years, it seems to me, the revisionist arguments about Norman castles have been pushed too far, to the extent that some historians now come close to arguing that they had almost no military function at all. Work on the White Tower started in the 1070s and continued until the early 12th century. New lordships required new castles, and the rapes were named in each case after the fortresses that sprung up at Chichester, Hastings, Bramber, Arundel, Lewes and Pevensey. They had originated in France around the turn of the first millennium as a result of the collapse of royal and provincial authority, when power ultimately devolved to those who had the means to build their own private fortifications and fill them with mounted warriors. Stone Castles took too long to build so Duke William laid plans to build Norman Timber Castles when he mounted his invasion. It was built on the highest point in the town, and was separated by a deep ditch and rampart. Such descriptions are borne out by the fact that it took the duke months, and in some cases years, to take them. They did not have to pay tax on their lands and they were allowed to build towns and markets, which they were allowed to tax. But the fact is that Chepstow Castle was 
still a formidable building, situated high on 
a cliff above the river Wye, and defended at each end by ditches cut deep into the rock. “The fortifications that the Normans 
called castles,” he explains, “were scarcely known in the English provinces, and so the English – in spite of their courage and love of fighting – could put up only a weak resistance to their enemies.”, From the moment his army landed on English soil, the Conqueror embarked 
on a remarkable programme of castle-building…. After his victory at Hastings, William reportedly spent eight days at Dover, an Iron Age hillfort, “adding the fortifications it lacked”. “This man,” says the caption of an important-looking Norman holding a pennant, “orders a castle to be dug at Hastings,” and to his right we see a group of men, armed with picks and shovels, setting to work. It was quite possible to obtain the same advantage of height quickly and on a fraction of the budget by throwing up a great mound of earth and topping it with a tower of wood. An extensive network of castles allowed the Normans to secure their power in England. This was established shortly before Christmas 1066, “as a defence against the inconstancy of the numerous and hostile inhabitants” (wrote William of Poitiers). One of the remarkable things about the Norman conquest was how quickly the rift between the English and the Normans was healed. Afterwards it was entrusted to his half-brother Odo of Bayeux. Roche Castle, like its sister castle at Carlingford, were both built by the Anglo-Normans as part of the process of taming and colonizing north Louth in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. , castles eventually became the centre of local activity. The lands given to them were on the border with Wales also known as the March, and in exchange for their extensive lands and special privileges, the Marcher lords were expected to stop the Welsh from supporting English rebels in the North against King William. Castles, by contrast, were comparatively small affairs, designed to be defended by a limited number of fighting men. Yet some scholars are curiously reluctant to allow that castles built after the Conquest served a similar military purpose.

Thanks! Planted in the middle of an Iron Age hillfort, Old Sarum was probably begun before 1070, when the Conqueror went there to dismiss his army after the Harrying of the North. Exeter had fallen to William in 1068 after 
a bitter three-week siege that saw heavy casualties on both sides – and during which, 
if we believe the later chronicler William of Malmesbury, one of the English defenders signalled his defiance by dropping his trousers and farting in the king’s general direction. In many instances Saxon houses were demolished to make room for the new castle.

Why did the Normans build castles? The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine, When William the Conqueror invaded England he introduced a startling new military tactic. Castles were powerful defensive structures but it was also the place which ordinary people associated with authority. The Normans had been building state of the art castles in Normandy for a while. Because they were home to large garrisons, castles eventually became the centre of local activity.

Its original gatehouse still survives, and has been judged defensively weak because it was originally entered at ground level. William built not one but two castles in York: the first (Clifford’s Tower) was constructed in the summer of 1068, the second (Baile Hill) early the following year. In contrast to the Norman castles, which were designed to house the Lord and his retinue of retainers and soldiers (these latter housed in long-vanished barracks within the curtain walls), the tower-houses were essentially family homes of the better-off landed proprietors. This massive twenty-sided tower, which is cruciform in shape, was protected by a ditch, curtain wall and moat. The first pre-built Norman Wooden Castle was erected at Pevensey Bay in 1066. The Normans, wept the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1067, “built castles far and wide throughout the land, oppressing the unhappy people, and things went ever from bad to worse”. In 1069 the people of Northumbria overran Durham, massacring its Norman garrison, which tried and failed to hold out 
in the hall of the local bishop. William may have raised armies to quell major rebellions, but for the rest of the time he relied on other Normans to keep order in his new kingdom.

In Norman England a noble needed permission from the king to build a castle, but the Marcher lords were exempt from this and they built hundreds of castles in 11 th, 12 th and 13 th centuries. In the years that followed, the castle-building campaign intensified.


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