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Did the Normans build a Motte and Bailey castle at Rochester?

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History Around Us A Personal Investigation of Rochester Castle Did the Normans build a Motte and Bailey castle at Rochester? The Normans built Motte and Bailey castles in major towns, so that there would always be Normans to keep the town loyal. They were also built near major routes, so that it was easier for the Norman soldiers to move quickly and block the movement of an enemy army. This way they also controlled all over the countryside within 20 to 30 miles of the castle and they were also built next to Rivers to make it harder to attack. Rochester is a major town with a cathedral, it is on the main route from Dover to London and it is also next to the River Medway. All of this makes Rochester a good location for a Motte and Bailey castle. There is no physical evidence at Rochester to suggest that there was a Motte and Bailey castle. This is because there isn't a mound present, however Rochester Castle is on a slight hill. Motte and Bailey castles were also built out of wood, which has rotted. Source A says, "The Normans built Motte and Bailey castles at strategic points all over the country." This suggests that a Motte and Bailey castle was built at Rochester because it was a very strategic point with the River and the main route it was on. ...read more.


Source E says, "In 1126 King Henry 1 gave Rochester Castle to Archbishop of Canterbury and gave him permission to build a tower there." This suggests that the castle was built after 1126. This cross-references with Source F, which shows that the ground floor basement was begun in 1127. Both of these sources are reliable as a monk, who was not biased, wrote Source E and Source F appears in the Castle Guidebook, so it must be accurate. Source G, a secondary source, shows a Norman Keep, which was built in 1180. It is very similar to Rochester Castle, as it is on a square, with four corner towers and it has the same entrance, therefore we know that both of these castles were built at approximately the same time. Source I then tells us that the castle was attacked in 1215, so we know that the castle had been built by 1215. The date is very unlikely to be wrong, as it says, "It was probably written close to the time of events." From the sources, I have come to the conclusion that the castle was most probably built between 1126 and 1215. However the physical evidence such as the chevron moulding and the rounded arches suggest that it was built late 11th century, early 12th century. I would therefore say that the castle was most probably built in the early 12th century. ...read more.


Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I agree with this statement because there is a lot of physical evidence to suggest that rebuilding did take place. For example the southeast corner is round and rounded towers were not developed until the 13th century and we have reason to believe that the rest of the castle was probably built in the early 12th century. The bailey wall also shows signs of being rebuilt as it has arches built into it, which were a 13th century feature. There is also evidence of obvious rebuilding inside the castle, as there is an archway, which is half blocked, where someone has started rebuilding it. There is also a portcullis and these were also 13th century features. In Source I it says, "With a great roar the whole roof gave way, the castle walls cracked and the whole tower fell down." The castle has four towers today, so this tower, which fell down, must have been rebuilt. Source I is a reliable source as it has Source J to support it, as Source J says, "We order you to send us night and day 40 bacon pigs of the fattest and those less good for eating to use for bringing fire under the tower." This siege took place in the 13th century and so it probably took place in the south-east tower, which is now round, and as rounded towers were not developed until the 13th century it is very likely that the south-east tower was rebuilt. ...read more.

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