Duke William Builds a Pre-Built Castle at Pevensey
Duke William made careful plans for the Norman invasion. The Normans were great builders of castles and fully appreciated the great advantages that a castle gave to a fighting force.
- Wooden Castles could be erected quickly
- Parts to make the wooden castles were pre-built - the timbers were cut to the correct sizes and bolts were used to fit them together
- The Romans used a similar system when they built their wooden forts
- A suitable place to build on high ground would be located
- Carpenters and some of the military would ensure quick construction
- The castle would be used to intimidate the local population
- A number of fighting men would man the castle, ready to take on any attackers
- It would also be used to safely store supplies and equipment together with the horses
The English first built some 'motte' and 'bailey' castles during the reign of Edward the Confessor but there were very few of them - they were situated at Herefordshire, the Welsh border, obviously for protection against the Welsh. The use of castles did not feature in King Harold's battle plans but they were key to the strategy adopted by Duke William.
The Norman chroniclers described the erection of the castle at Pevensey as follows:
"They took counsel together, and looked for a good spot to build a castle on.
They had brought with them in the fleet, three pre-built wooden castles from Normandy, all in pieces, ready for fitting together, and they took the materials of one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced to receive the pins which they had brought cut and ready in large barrels; and before evening had set in they had finished a good Castle on English ground, and placed their stores there. All then ate and drank, and were glad to be ashore".