Early Normans

Norman Castle - Heritage ParkGleaming white, and built on a hill, the whitewashed residence of the feudal lord stood out in the landscape, emphasising his dominance of the social and military scene.

Lime-wash had been used in Ireland from at least the 8th century. An imposing gatehouse, reflecting the lord’s importance and personality, gave entry to the bailey. The principal buildings within were the hall where the lord ate in public, held council, or delivered justice, the chamber block where the lord resided, the granary and the chapel.

From the Bailey a wooden footbridge led into the tower, the last line of defence. In the event of an attack the footbridge would be destroyed to prevent enemy access. This castle is based on ones found in Britain and Western Europe, as there are very few to be found in Ireland. Instead, they used wooden towers on top of large earthen mounds, known as Mottes, or fortified their strongholds by means of high palisaded earthen banks surrounded by deep ditches.

The reconstruction shown above, is situated below an important archaeological site – the first Norman stronghold in Ireland. The ditch still survives. This site was constructed in Wexford by Robert Fitzstephen, in 1169/1170. The original ditch, cut out of rock, was up to 7 metres wide and 2 metres deep in places. No definite structures were found, but there was a lot of habitation refuse discovered, including animal and fish bones, shells, 13th pottery and two silver pennies dating from the reign of King Henry III.

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