Earthwork castles

Twthill, Rhuddlan

Twthill, Rhuddlan

After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror gave land to the noblemen who had supported him and made them lords. They built castles to protect their land and helped him rule Britain.

It was important to build the castles quickly. They built with materials to be found close at hand – timber and earth. Sites were chosen carefully and castles designed to give defenders the maximum advantage over attackers. They could be garrisoned by small forces of men yet, in time of need, could accommodate larger numbers of troops.

Two types of castle were built in Wales.

  • A motte and bailey castle is made up of a huge mound of earth (called a motte). A wooden tower was often built on this. It gave a good view of the surrounding countryside. Next to it was a courtyard (called a bailey) surrounded by a ditch, a bank and a wooden palisade (strong fence). In this the horses, supplies and weapons were safe.
  • The other type of earthwork castle is called a ringwork. This consisted of a bailey with a strong gate tower, but without a motte. This type of castle was often built in the borders between England and Wales and in south and west Wales.