The early castles were merely earthen "mounds," and medieval castle designs built on these fundamentals by using ditches in the Motte and Bailey pattern. As technology evolved (and attackers became more clever), complicated concentric castle designs arose, resulting in a stronghold that was nearly invincible to its foes. The best-known example of this type of castle is the Tower of London.
These new designs were primarily concerned with making the castle as strong as possible, without sacrificing its defensibility. They often included large numbers of arrowslits, some even over the battlements, others inside the walls. Guards would also be stationed at different places within the castle to signalize enemy movements or give warning of attacks from outside the perimeter fence.
During the 11th century, knights began to carry their victories further away from home, which led to the creation of overseas castles. These fortifications were usually built near existing settlements or on strategically important sites, and they served as symbols of authority for their owners. Over time, they too developed into sophisticated military complexes.
Finally, during the late 13th century, a new type of castle design came about that was revolutionary in its conception: the walled city. Previously, cities had always been protected by natural barriers such as rivers or hills; but now they needed to be defended from attack from the outside, so defensive structures were built around them.
Motte and bailey castles were a form of early fortification. A yard, or bailey, was erected adjacent to an earth mound, or motte, with a tower or watchtower on top. Stables, a hall, workshops, a spring, and a church were all common features of a bailey. The motte and bailey were encircled by a ditch and secured by a palisade barrier.
The word "motte" comes from the Old English for "hillock". The term "bailey" comes from the Old English for "bench". Therefore, a motte and bailey is literally "a hillock and bench".
These castles were commonly used in England between 1066 and 1150. They replaced wooden towers upon which settlers depended for protection against invaders and natural disasters. The mounds could be made of dirt or stone. They often served as churches too. There are examples of churches built right into the mounds of some motte and bailey castles.
These castles were popular among farmers because they provided some security for their crops and livestock. They also prevented people from approaching the settlement undetected - someone would have to go up to the top of the motte to see if anyone was coming.
There are still many motte and bailey castles around the world today. Some remain as museums while others have been renovated or rebuilt to serve other purposes such as schools, hospitals, or prisons.
The castles were made out of a wooden wall around an open space or courtyard (bailey) and a natural or artificial hill (motte) with a wooden tower constructed in the center of its flattened top, occasionally encircled by its own wooden palisade. The term "moated castle" is therefore appropriate.
Motte and bailey castles were built across England during the 11th century. They could be found in towns as well as large villages. A lord would build his castle on a mound (motte) because it was visible from far away, which meant that enemies could come from anywhere to attack it. A lord would also build his castle inside a town because they had walls around them, which meant that people could protect themselves inside the city gates if needed.
These castles were often the home of a knight or nobleman who fought for the king in battle and kept the peace within their local area. They usually stood on high ground so enemies would have to go through them or over them to reach the land beyond. Sometimes these fortifications were even used as prisons since there were no guards necessary inside the castle walls.
These castles were made of wood because stone was expensive and only rich lords could afford it. But wood is easy to get rid of if you want to so it did not matter too much if some of it was lost.