Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/414

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE tapestry, supposed to have been worked in the eleventh century, gives a curious contemporary representation of the fort at Dinan in the latter country, which greatly helps us to understand the mode of construction and former appearance of such works. In the centre of this interesting needlework picture is seen the conical mound of earth surrounded by its moat, outside of which is a gate guarded by turrets, apparently of wood ; from this gate a ladder-like bridge crosses the moat to a tower, which also appears to be of timber, and is half-way up the side of the mount; above this again is a strong enclosure or keep, the stockades of which encircle the top of the earthwork. Round the inside of this timber palisade runs a fighting platform of earth for the defenders to stand upon, and within the stockaded keep is a timber-built house. Soldiers are seen attacking the fort from without, while others defend it from behind the palisades. This remarkable picture shows that the first defences of these moated mounts were of timber, and not of masonry, which the newly heaped up earth would not be solid enough to bear ; it also explains the object of the rim of earth which is often found, as at Castle Bromwich, round the top of the mount, and which is evidently a portion of the fighting platform within the stockade or keep. The outer court or bailey, so frequently found in England, is not shown in the picture of the Dinan fort. As in the case of the earlier camps, the original timber defences of these moated mount and court castles have long ago disappeared. It is not necessary to go outside of Warwickshire for a good example of this particular type of earth fort. For few finer specimens are to be seen anywhere than that at Brinklow, which is also singularly well preserved, with its large moated mount and outer as well as inner courts. Seckington and Castle Bromwich are also excellent examples of these mount and court forts once defended by stockades of timber, neither of them showing any traces of masonry ; smaller and less perfect specimens are to be found at Fillongley and at Kineton. While the original forts of this class were undoubtedly protected by timber defences only, many years after they were first constructed, and when the earth had had time to settle down and get solid, some of these moated mounts and their accompanying ramparts were built upon, and became incorporated in mediasval castles of masonry ; the latter are usually based upon the same ground plan of tall keep and outer court or bailey. Locally this has been done at Tamworth, at Warwick, at Kenilworth and in many other instances. Although the typical courtyards found attached to these moated mounts are more or less curved and rounded in shape, as at Brinklow and at Seckington, examples are occasionally found of rectangular form ; such are the courts at Tamworth, at Warwick and at Castle Bromwich ; they have been supposed to represent the remains of some earlier for- tress which has been utilized by the makers of the later stronghold. Finally, who were the people who first constructed these moated mount and court forts ? Few archaeological questions have been the 352