Dominion in the Landscape
Lucy Marten-Holden, winner of the first Royal Historical Society / History Today award for the undergraduate dissertation of the year, explores the thinking behind the siting of the Norman castles of Suffolk.
Ever since the Anglo-Norman historian Orderic Vitalis made a link between the Norman possession of castles and the English lack of resistance to the 1066 conquest, those castles have been viewed in predominantly militaristic terms. The stone fortification high upon its artificial motte stands as a symbol of Norman domination, of superiority and supremacy, of military power used as a political tool. While I would not wish to deny the Normans their martial superiority or to undervalue the changes that 1066 brought to English society, I hope to challenge the theory that military factors above all determined the siting and structure of Norman castles, by looking at the evidence of one county – Suffolk.