Norman Castles of Ireland and Europe
Norman Castles first came to Ireland in the year of 1169. In the next 10 or so years we see some of the world’s most fortified castles. Castles were built of enormous size! Their masonry is outstanding! They were safe from enemies! They were formidable! They were fireproof! Nothing in this 21 Century can rival the Norman Castles. They were well-known for their round doorways and arches. Many churches and monasteries throughout Europe used this architecture. The large square bell towers were often used for places of refuge. There were secret passages and rooms. The massive stone walls were fireproof.
For many years, people built motes around the castle. A mote was a mound of dirt which then held strong stone walls. In later years they began using the flat earth to build on, as it gave better support to the heavy stone walls. Then you would see court yards and then a keep. A keep was another type of enclosure surrounding the complete courtyard. Then a huge ditch would be dug and filled with water. Only one entrance usually crossed this ditch and had a bridge that could be drawn up. In this way, the lords protected their castles. They were untouchable! They were formidable!
In the earliest days, some castles were made of wood. Hugh de Lacy built a wooden castle. In 1173 an Irish King burnt it to the ground. De Lacy rebuilt his castle out of stone. After that period, most castles had little wood used in their construction. The Normans learned quickly from their mistakes. These castles were built to last. No enemy could touch them. The huge square towers were lookouts. At the first sign of trouble, the bridge was drawn. This was a perfect system. When done correctly it was never breached.
Ireland is the perfect place to discover Norman castles. There are many tours available. Make this the year you discover what it is like to walk the grounds of a real castle. Some tour packages include accommodations in the castle itself. Grab your passport and pack your bag. Ireland is calling your name.
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This post was originally published on March 5, 2015 at:
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