silbury (9)

The lunatic fringe, or at least this diminutive portion of it, is feeling quite pleased with itself tonight. For a goodly while Stuart and I have been banging on about the possibility of motte and bailey castles being something other…and older… than the Norman constructions they are generally dismissed as being.

Our idea was based solely on looking at the landscape and basic human nature. We know that  prehistoric man built mounds. You cannot, for example, miss Silbury Hill or dismiss Maiden Castle. We know they built barrows… small mounds for burials…and shifted huge quantities of earth to create the ditches and embankments we know as henges. Where ever we have found a ‘motte and bailey’ in close proximity to prehistoric sites, we have had to wonder whether the incoming invaders had not simply made use of what was already there.

Maiden Castle (112)

Why waste time and labour to build what already exists, we thought? Why build a ‘castle’ on a mound whose top is too small for a castle? Why build one at all when there is a beautifully defensible crag not a hundred yards away? And what better way of stamping your new authority on the landscape and its people than to take over its most prominent, and possibly sacred, place? That’s exactly what the ‘new’ Christian religion did when it arrived to evangelise the country. And the Romans. Why not the Normans? Maybe, we thought, at least some of the motte and baileys are much older than we think…

Mind you, that’s exactly the kind of woolly thinking that gets us relegated to the lunatic fringe in the first place.

Diana and co north 124


I’ve been following the Round Mounds project’s blog with some interest over the past year or so. They are about as far from the lunatic fringe as you can get. They are respectable scientists. They have been investigating a number of sites and the results are now in from the core samples taken at Skipsea Castle.

The castle was constructed upon its mound by Drogo de la Beauvrière, between 1071 and 1086. It was assumed that the motte dated to this time. The core samples show otherwise and date the construction of the mound to the mid Iron Age, around fifteen hundred years before the Norman castle. There are huge earthworks surrounding the site…and you have to wonder now when they might date from.

The scientists are justifiably excited. I have to say that tonight, they are not on their own.

scotland trip jan 15 652

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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30 Responses to Discovery

  1. How interesting! Yet another area where our minds are conjoined. In the course of researching one of my projects, I too have been looking at the motte and bailey from a different angle, mostly because of other earthworks that have bee dated back to a much more ancient time than was previously estimated.


  2. Most, if not all, churches and cathedrals seem to have been built in places that were known to be sacred to the local inhabitants, Pagan or early Christian (and probably the early Christians originally built on sacred pagan sites), so to expand that to castles as well is certainly interesting. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Smith says:

    Yay! Let’s hear it for it the lunatic fringe. I’d put my money on you and Stuart (and I haven’t even met the guy) being right about these things any time.


  4. Running Elk says:

    Loonies. It’ll never stand up to… oh, wait… :p


  5. Dalo 2013 says:

    Nothing like spending some time with the lunatic fringe, keeps life interesting and the mind moving 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    A corroboration of original research by Stuart and Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  7. noelleg44 says:

    I’ve always thought historians/archeologists have to have a bit of creativity and lunacy to figure things out in the absence of sufficient data.


  8. Robert says:

    Your theory sound logical to me Sue.


  9. Mick Canning says:

    Makes perfect sense!


  10. Helen Jones says:

    Oh, I read about this in the news this morning, and immediately thought of you! Wonderful to see science backing up your suspicions (and that of other researchers). Intrigued to see what the rest of the samples reveal…


  11. Widdershins says:

    Not one itty-bitty teeny-weeny, ‘I told you (them) so? 🙂


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