A motte is a mound made of earth and rubble, on which was built a square timber tower used as a look-out, a place to fire on attacks from, and for storing weapons. On the top of the mound and surrounding the tower was a palisade made of timber with a platform on the inner side and wooden steps leading up to one side.
Sometimes a bailey is attached - that is an enclosed area which was used for horses and food storage. There are records of over 600 motte castles in England, 83 in Herefordshire alone. Nowadays all that often remains is the motte, the mound, perhaps with trees growing on it.
In Herefordshire, a motte is often called a tump. This word sometimes turns up in place-names, such as Newton Tump.
Many castles made of timber were eventually replaced by stone towers and walls. Many of the castles in Herefordshire are now only ruins.
William the Conqueror was born at the castle of Falaise in Normandy. It was built of splendid white Caen stone. There has been some debate as to whether the stone with which Goodrich Castle keep was built was imported from Caen or whether it is a quartz conglomerate brought in from the Forest of Dean.
Falaise Castle was badly damaged during World War II, and was renovated over a period of 50 years using modern materials of concrete, glass and steel. Conservationists differ in their opinions as to the effectiveness of this approach, but the alterations do reflect the military image of power and might of the original castle without trying to return it to its original appearance.
The Norman word for keep is donjon, from which we get the word dungeon, as the earliest Norman prisons were in the castle keep.
Caen Castle is a good example of a Norman castle built to impress, and to control and defend the local population.
[Original author: Toria Forsyth-Moser, 2002]