The myth of the motte and bailey castle in Scotland

Tags: UK Castle

An assessment of medieval earthwork fortifications in Scotland and their relationship to traditional Anglo-Norman motte and bailey castles, and earlier Scottish sites.

In the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, an unknown Count in north-western France developed an ingenious new design for an earthwork fortification that could be erected by unskilled labourers in a very short time. This fortification could serve the dual purposes of protecting a military force in hostile land, and providing that military force with an effective bridgehead from which to operate. The identity of the earliest such fortification is unknown, but a case has been made for Vinchy (Les Rues-des-Vignes near Cambrai) as early as AD 979. The context of this innovation was the creation and establishment of semi-autonomous feudal states under the varying influence of the Kings of France after the collapse of the Carolingian Empire.

Borders fell to be established, and land controlled. The warfare between the territories of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Poitou and others resulted in large numbers of these fortifications being built, with the design being extensively copied. In 1066, the successful conquest of the far greater and wealthier Kingdom of England by Duke William II of Normandy was the culmination of this process.

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Author: Simon Forder

Article and Image Source: thecastleguy.co.uk

Simon Forder

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