Norman Architecture and Norman Castles
The name Norman is derived from a vicinity of Northern France. Norman architecture refers to the constructions made by the Normans. These are not only seen in Northern France and England but also seen in Southern Italy and Sicily. The style of architecture used in Norman buildings is called Romanesque style. The period of Norman architecture extended from 1066 to 1204. In the year 1066 the Saxon-Dane rulers of England were overthrown by the Normans.
The Normans developed the wooden Motte and Bailey castles in Normandy. This was the first event in the evolution of Norman architecture. Later after invasion of England the Castle keep was used by the Normans. This castle keeps replaced the top of the wooden Motte. Later on, stone was used by the Normans to build their castles. This made the arrival of the Norman-Romanesque Architecture. New techniques were developed by the Normans in the construction of castles. They developed the stone vault ceiling, the buttress and the arch to sustain the weight of the stones and bricks used in the construction of the castles.
These castles build under Norman-Romanesque architecture were very expensive but the castles were long-lasting and lasting. The castles were constructed in such a way so that they indicated Fear, Ave, Domination, Envy, Submission, Respect, strength and Wealth. The best site for the construction of the castle was close to a river or a sea.
Stones used in the construction were very heavy. Roman arches were utilized to sustain this heavy stones. The windows were very small in size so as to sustain the walls from collapsing by giving them strength. Stone roofs were constructed. These roofs were supported by the vaults. The vaults were of different types like Barrel or Tunnel vaults and Groin Vaults. The Norman arches were made with simple geometry. The arches had zig zag carvings around it. The doorways were present under the tympanum under the arch. These zig zag patterns were also called chevron patterns.
The Norman castles were very enormous and housed many men and horses. The castles also housed cavalry. The castles were used to govern the surrounding districts and also to frighten people around. Not only castles but many churches and cathedrals were also constructed in this Norman architectural pattern. The churches had a cruciform plan. The castles were mostly built on a high and elevated land. The Norman castles were initially built with timber. Later, after invading England they were converted to stone. The wooden motte on which the castle was built was not strong enough to bear the weight of the substantial stone tower. To solve this problem the Norman castle keep was developed and also the weight of the tower was reduced.The walls of the castles also had some sculptures carved on them.
Some of the castles built under Norman architecture are: The Beeston Castle (Cheshire), Corfe Castle (Dorset), Peveril (Derbyshire), The Great castle of the de Warenne family (Lewes, Sussex), Baynard’s castle (London), Royal castles of Nottingham, Warwick and York, etc,.
Norman Castles and their architectural designs have made a lasting impact on the British scenery and History. Most of them are standing tall and strong already till this date which is a testimony of the quality of construction and architectural skills.