1068 - Leicester Invaded and Conquered

In 1068 King William I invaded Leicester and took the city by storm. His army destroyed a large portion of the city along with St Mary's Church. 

Hugh de Grandmesnil, one of the few proven companions of William The Conqueror, began to build Leicester Castle. 

Strategically placed at the corner of the town's old Roman walls, Leicester Castle used a heavily protected motte and bailey formation. The central area, protected by the Roman wall, ditches and a timber watchtower, consisted of a cluster of buildings with an early timber framed Great Hall standing proudly in their midst. 

The area enclosed by the bailey would have had a large number of timber buildings as well as the Church of St. Mary de Castro. 
Below is an image of how the inner castle precinct may have looked around 1150. 

 © Image John Cook

© Image John Cook

A motte-and-bailey castle is a fortification with a wooden or stone tower (keep) situated on a raised earthwork (motte), enclosed by a courtyard (bailey), surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. Relatively easy to build with unskilled labour, but still militarily formidable, these castles were built across northern Europe from the 10th Century onwards. The Normans introduced the design into England and Wales following their invasion in 1066.

Listen to a short interview with Richard Buckley (Lead Archaeologist at Leicester University) who describes the early Norman castle.