Medieval & English Civil War Experience
Copyright © Des & Judith Thomas (Historical Services To Schools) 2016 All Rights Reserved
With Ned (Young Ned) Carlewe & Judith Carlewe
Colonell Granville Thomas with Mistress Judith Thomas
14th - 15th Century
Castle Development
Back Into The Past
 
Castle Development
Early castles, in this country, went as far back as the Ancient Britons, Maidun Castle in Dorset was about 1,000 years old in the 15th Century, but fell to the Romans in AD 43.  Castles or earth ramparts were built up to protect the local population from raiders.  It gave a strong point to fall back into when under attack.  Even in this early stage they had complicated defences built atop a hill.
What did they look like ?  
We are are used to seeing castles "as they are now" this view alongside  we only see the ruins, what is left of some splended edifice.  Very few show what they would have looked like in their heyday.  Some castles have been simply grassed over and other buildings built over them.  Occasionally the site staff will attempt to show, with models, what it would have looked like.  But these only show a snapshot from the history of the castle but they were homes and in their own way small towns and would have been full of life, well most of the time.  They all changed dramatically during their lifetime as their needs changed.
As they developed, features were added, as in all warfare , as one side improved their defences the other tried to overcome them.  Some of the more "Modern" features, i.e. stone walls, were first seen in Roman defence works, in fact the word castle comes from the Latin word Caister.  Roman camps had been small fortifications when their armies were on the march.  Their towns and villas were themsleves fortified with wooden palisades but they proved to be no real defences against fire.  Stone and brickwork replaced them and the Roman engineers improved the castles with more and more intricate line of defence.  The gateway shown is from about 400 AD, nearly 600 years before the Norman Castles, crenulations can be seen atop the walls, not used by the Normans till about 108
The Norman Conquest:  
When the Normans took over they needed to control a defeated and still dangerous local population.  They used the same techniques that they used in Normandy and built defences.  So England was to see a Motte and Bailey.  The one shown here is from about 1086, the Motte is the mound (manmade) and the Bailey is the wooden defences, the one on the mound was to become the keep or donjon a place of last stand. The ones round the base were to become the outer bailey.  The main reason for the wood construction was for speed to get them built as soon as possible to keep the locals in their place. All these earthworks and wood walls were eventually replaced by stone defences.
How do we do this ?
The children become, Castle Walls, Defenders, Families living in the castle, Ditches and Attackers.
Why did they look like they did ?