By Neil Phillips
PhD Dissertation, University of Sheffield (2005)
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the earthwork and timber castles built in the southern March of Wales between the periods AD 1050-1250. The research addresses the presence of the castles and discusses their roles as weapons of conquest and structures of administrative control. It is argued that the recognisable change in the form of earthwork castle construction over the 200 year period can be seen as a consequence of changing functions. Although it has not been possible to demonstrate how the area within a castle was used, it has been possible to identify a difference in the degree of defence verses habitation space associated with these structures.
A system of classification is introduced which relies on the tenet of “form follows function” whereby all of the known earthworks are interpreted as to type and date; the date periods being generalised into the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. The information for the classification is derived from a variety of sources; documentary evidence, fieldwork, aerial photography, topographical survey, geophysical survey, and limited excavation. The surveys and excavations that are included are original work undertaken for this study.
Discussion has also been undertaken as to the social structures in the March both prior to the Norman Conquest and after the arrival of the Normans. Research is also presented with a view to questioning both the origin of the castle and the definition of the term. The research uses a certain amount of data from outside of the area including Normandy.
The outcome of the research presents an interpretation of the Norman Conquest of the Southern March of Wales.