Motte and Bailey Castle
Constructing a motte and bailey castle is a popular year 7 school project
and the download at the bottom of this page provides a fundamental structure
from which a customized model can be created.
The motte and bailey model pictured here was drawn-up, built and photographed
by Alex - a year 7 student.
Motte and Bailey castles, popular in Britain during the 11th and 12th
centuries, typically consisted of a fortified courtyard (bailey) overlooked
by a wooden castle built on a mound of earth (motte).
The characteristic form of the motte is illustrated in this photograph
of Berkhamsted castle, as seen from the caretaker's cottage.
Berkhamsted castle is one of the oldest motte and bailey castles in
Britain. William of Normandy granted the manor and honour of Berkhamsted
to his half brother, Robert of Mortain, who then set about building
a strongly fortified castle, constructed at the bottom of a dry valley
where there were springs available to fill the moats.
An idea of the scale of Berkhamsted Castle can be gained from the stairs
that ascend the motte, shown in the adjacent photograph.
The fundamental model on this page produces a good approximation of
a motte and bailey castle by using two modified, intersecting cones.
By the time you reach year 7, you will probably be familiar with the
idea of producing nets of 3D objects. Our model uses nets of cones that
have had their tops chopped off (truncated) and their lower parts folded
upwards to form a "moat". The motte is taller and narrower,
while the bailey is shorter and wider.
Although this approach is relatively simple, the actual line of cone-intersection
is most easily calculated using CAD software. The cones are then surrounded
by a "box" and the resulting geometry is as illustrated in
the adjacent image.
The basic model, consisting of 4 sheets (including instructions) can
be downloaded via the link at the bottom of this page. As with most
models on this site PVA glue is recommended for assembly.
The "trick" with construction, particularly with gluing the
cones to the base, is not to glue everything at once. Glue circular
components a few tabs at a time - first at one location and then a few
tabs diametrically opposite. Keep doing this, working back and forth
as you secure the tabs. In this way you will be able to build a tidy,
This picture shows three models at various stages of construction.
You can design buildings based on your own research and paint / decorate
the model as you see fit.
Further reading - Berkhamsted