Norman Motte and Bailey Castle

This weekend, starting on Friday, Rowan and I built this Norman motte and bailey castle for his History homework. It’s built to 6mm scale (1:300) in the classic shape. Most motte and bailey castles were pretty small – this, with its 15 metre high mound and three storey keep, represents one of the larger examples.

It’s on a plywood base, built up with cardboard and then covered with plasterboard adhesive (which is like a hard plaster). Once dry it was all painted with a mid-brown (emulsion tester pot) and drybrushed with a very pale cream colour, to create an earth texture. Finally it was painted in patches with PVA and covered with two kinds of flock and dried tea (from teabags). The moat was given one coat of Woodland Scenics water. It could have done with more, but there wasn’t enough time.

Motte and Bailey castle

Motte and Bailey castle

The keep is mounting board and balsa, with a small pitched roof inset, and then a walkway around. The log palisade is made of little bits of birch twig. To make the fence stay up, we had to stick a strip of mounting board down first – hopefully it’s not too obtrusive. It seemed more realistic to use whole logs – unsplit timber would have been easier to collect than planking larger trees and wouldn’t rot as quickly as split or sawn surfaces.

Inside the bailey are some mounting board buildings, with a few balsa wood details. Luckily Norman buildings didn’t have much in the way of doors and windows, which kept it simple. The thatch is teddy bear fur – a bit thick for the scale but it’s got the right look. They should have raised smoke holes, but it’s impossible with such a rough material.  One of the buildings is a larger two storey structure – a hall with storage underneath. The other two are simple one storey huts. We were going to make stables with a row of doors, but the Fanaticus forum feedback was that they wouldn’t have had those at this point. Ideally there would be a couple more buildings in the bailey, but we ran out of time – it had to be handed in this morning.

Motte under construction

Motte under construction – buildings were stuck on at the end.

The gate towers started off as a mounting board arch, which was then clad in balsa, with a couple of diagonals to give it interest. The bridges are strips of balsa with more birch twigs stuck to the sides as supports.

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