Early Fortifications

Before Chateaux and Castles

Early fortifications and fortresses appeared pre-Roman times. There are examples in Troy, Babylon, Assyria, various Greek Islands, Spain, China and Mexico. Although their construction varies in design and strength, they are different in character to early fortresses (often wrongly termed 'castles'). In World War II fortifications were built by the Germans in France too.

Forts and Fortresses

These fortifications usually consist of large earthworks with huge ditches and embankments sited on hill tops. These fortresses were created with very primitive tools.

The establishment of the Roman Empire across Europe brought new military strategies. They did not favour fortifications but preferred mobility and speed to react to new military situations. Rome, however, was surrounded by 12 miles of wall. They were 12 feet thick and about 60 feet high with siege towers every 100 foot.

At Nimes - a Roman garrison town - the Porte Augusta was built in 15BC. Its design is the pre-cursor for castles built twelve hundred years later. The gateway had a double entrance - each protected by a portcullis. In 3rd and 4th centuries the Romans built a string of fort across southern England. During the following centuries there are many examples of formidable barriers - walls and forts typically.

Ruins of Porta Praetoria

It was not until the Norman invasion of England did we see the first 'castles' at the beginning of the Medieval period. The success of the Normans was due to the development of feudalism with the motte and bailey castle. There are many references to motte and bailey castles in the field of research about the Norman invasion.

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