the Motte & Bailey type of castle was still used in dire
emergencies, most castles being erected by the late 12th century were
built of stone. A licence had to be obtained from the king before
work could start on the project. The mid-Norman castles still used
the Motte & Bailey plan, having a large square keep and an
enclosed bailey. The keep was the strong-hold for the family who
lived there and for the soldiers who had to defend the castle.
Surrounding the keep was the bailey, which was protected by a strong
stone high wall instead of the earlier timber fence. It also had a
walk-way, with access by steps, going the whole distance of the wall,
to allow the defenders to fight off attackers trying the breach the
walls or gates.
entrance would have a wooden stair or bridge which could be removed
in time of danger. It would also have a portcullis, a great iron
bound grill which was lowered blocking the entrance. This allowed the
defending archers to fire through it at the attackers. When things
got serious, the solid oak gates would be closed behind it to make
the entrance doubly safe.
castle was not only a strong house for the family, but it was also
used to accomodate a garrison or act as a prison. The keep might be
27.7 m high and and 30.8 m square. The walls were up to 4.6 m thick
and faced with great blocks of dressed stone. The lower part of the
building was splayed outwards for stability as well as for defence.
Some keeps, such as Orford were octagonal or even circular.
projecting battlements had 'machicolations'
which were holes in the
floor from which to drop stones or pour boiling pitch. The windows
were narrow to stop arrows being aimed at them, and the most
important thing in the castle was the well, in case of a long siege.