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A motte-and-bailey castle is a wooden or stone keep building which sits on a raised mound called a motte and is accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, called a bailey. It is surrounded by a protective ditch and a fence called a palisade and was the first type of castle to be built in England after the Norman conquest in 1066. See below for more motte-and-bailey castle facts and information or download the comprehensive worksheet pack which can be utilised within the classroom or home environment.
What Is a Motte and Bailey Castle?
A motte and bailey castle, often spelled as motte-and-bailey, is an early type of castle. They were the first type of castle to be built in England.
The castle is made up of two parts. The motte is a raised mound or earthwork which would have a stone or wooden keep on top. A keep is a kind fortified tower. The bailey is an enclosed courtyard that was protected by a ditch and a palisade – which is a wall made from wooden stakes.
Motte and Bailey Castle Diagram
Below is a diagram of a motte and bailey castle which shows the key features of the castle.
Motte and Bailey Castle Facts
- Motte and bailey castles were first used by the the Normans. They would use this type of castle to make their settlements more secure after they won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 – led by William the Conqueror.
- The name motte and bailey come from Norman words. Motte means mound or ‘clod of earth’ and bailey means an enclosure.
- As many as 1,000 Motte and Bailey Castles may have been built in England by the Normans.
- The last motte-and-bailey castles were built in 1200. They became a less popular design in the mid-medieval period and actually stopped being built in most of England from around 1170, although they continued to be built in Wales.
- Motte and bailey style castles were used in many countries in Europe. They were particularly used in northern Europe and could be found in Normandy and Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), but also seen in Denmark, Germany, Southern Italy, Anjou, Ireland and the Netherlands.
- Motte and bailey was not used to describe the castles when they were built. The term we use to describe these castles is a modern one and wouldn’t have been used in the 10th or 11th centuries.
- Mottes used for the castles could either be man-made or natural. Sometimes an existing mound of earth was built on top of, other times they were built specifically.
- Mottes were flat on top and ranged in size, height and diameter. Some mottes were very tall and could range from 25 feet (8 metres) to over 80 feet (24 metres) in height.
- The sides of the motte were very steep. It would have almost impossible to run up the sides of the motte, making it an excellence defence, A deep ditch was dug around the bottom of the motte for extra protection.
- Usually a keep and wall were built on top of the motte. Wood was the most commonly used material, but some keeps were also built from stone. The size of the keep also varied from castle to castle.
- Wooden keeps were often covered with animal hides. Since wood was easier for an attacker to set on fire, animal hide was placed over the keep to try and make it less at risk of fire.
- At the bottom of the motte was the bailey. The bailey varied in size from one to three acres and was often shaped like a kidney – although the shape was sometimes dictated by the land.
- The bailey was surrounded by a palisade and a ditch. The palisade is a strong wooden fence and was also used to surround buildings. The ditch was called a fosse and surrounded the bailey for additional security.
- The followers of the lord of the castle lived inside the bailey. There were often many buildings inside the bailey. These would include stables, storehouses, bakeries, kitchens, houses and soldiers quarters.
- The bailey was designed with archers in mind. It was designed so that any point on its circumference (outer edge) would be within bowshot of the tower.
- The motte and bailey were linked by a bridge at the bottom and steps up the side of the motte.
- Often, ditches surrounding the motte and bailey would be combined. This would form a number 8 shape and water could be diverted into the ditches, creating a moat.
- The basic motte and bailey design was often adapted or altered. Some castles would have more than one motte, others might have more defensive ditches, mottes could also be a square shape and some castles has two or more baileys.
- Many of todays castles started out as a motte and bailey castle. These castles evolved over time as they went through stages of development and modernisation.
- Almost no motte and bailey castles are used today – although many still stand. The best example of a motte and bailey castle that is still used today is the world-famous Windsor Castle.
- Motte and bailey castles were quick and easy to erect without a great deal of skill. With a large enough workforce it was possible to build one in just a few weeks.
- It is estimated that four out of five castles built by the Normans in England were a motte-and-bailey castle.
Motte & Bailey Castle Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Motte & Bailey Castle worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about a motte-and-bailey castle which is a wooden or stone keep building which sits on a raised mound called a motte and is accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, called a bailey. It is surrounded by a protective ditch and a fence called a palisade and was the first type of castle to be built in England after the Norman conquest in 1066.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Motte and Bailey Castle Facts
- Motte and Bailey Castle Word Search
- Picture Crossword
- Fact or Bluff
- Structure of a Castle
- Windsor Castle
- Evolution of a Castle
- Castles Acrostic
- Design Your Castle
- Motte and Bailey Castles in Europe
- I Therefore Conclude…
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Link will appear as Motte and Bailey Castle Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 7, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.