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Publication - Dr Stuart Prior

    A Few Well-Positioned Castles

    The Norman Art of War


    Prior, SJ, 2006, ‘A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War’. Tempus Books


    Despite years of military castle studies, and a recent shift in emphasis towards studying the political, social, economic, symbolic, iconographic or aesthetic considerations associated with castles, the strategies, tactics and stratagems that underpinned Norman castle warfare remain largely unexplored. This book outlines a strategic approach to castles, arguing that ‘it was not what was built, but where it was built’ that was the key to Norman success. Castles are placed into context via landscape archaeology, and a study of contemporary and later sources. Historic military manuals are examined to establish strategic and tactical criteria, against which the positions of castles in the landscape can be tested and understood. Castle positioning in the landscapes of Somerset, Monmouthshire and Co. Meath is examined in detail, and the results integrated into historic narratives. The conclusions reached are, that in most cases, tactical and strategic considerations ultimately dictated where castles were constructed, that very often these considerations also provided the main impetus for castle construction, that the strategies, tactics and stratagems employed by the Normans made them a ‘force-majeur par excellence’, and that in order to appreciate the final conclusion it is necessary to see the Normans as part of a wider European phenomenon that drew its inspiration from the Roman Empire.

    Full details in the University publications repository