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A castle was a home, a place where guests could be entertained and often the local centre for administration and justice, but it was also built strong enough to defend its occupants while acting as a base from which to attack others.

A 'motte and bailey' castle consisted of a large mound, or motte, where possible based on solid rock. It was made of compacted rubble and earth, topped with a wooden tower. It provided a look-out post, as well as adding tactically important height if the castle was attacked. The 'bailey' was a large, level enclosed area beside the motte, surrounded by an earthwork bank and ditch, topped with a timber palisade. The bailey often contained a hall, buildings for livestock, a forge and armoury, and a chapel.
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