By Fiona Watson
Scottish power centres: from the early Middle Ages to the twentieth century, eds. Sally Foster, Allan Macinnes, and Ranald MacInnes (Glasgow, 1993)
Introduction: There can be fewer more potent images of a power centre in the popular mind than the late medieval castle. Easily visible for miles around, its lofty stone curtain walls served to protect and overawe, providing, indeed, both the means and the expression of power and lordship. Introduced to England by the Norman supporters of Edward the Confessor in the eleventh-century, the castle “as a fortified home and military base,” was one of the main factors in bringing about the permanent conquest of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom by William I. As centres of fiefs granted out to the new king’s supporters, castles also played an important role in administration. Originally built of wood, sometimes with stone foundations, but becoming more usually wholly constructed of masonry by the twelfth century, these early Norman castles took the form of either a motte and bailey or a “rinkwork.” The latter probably differed little from their Saxon predecessors in terms of form, but these Norman castles certainly served a different function in the new political and social environment.