Q&A: How did the Normans learn to build castles?

The straightforward answer is: nobody knows...

Pevensey Castle, England. First fortified by the Romans, William the Conqueror famously landed his army there in 1066 and a Norman castle was developed during the century after the Norman Conquest. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The Normans, as is widely appreciated, were originally Norsemen: Vikings who settled in the area around the Seine estuary in the late ninth and early 10th centuries. The traditional date for the founding of Normandy is AD 911, when the authority of the Norman leader, Rollo, was recognised by the king of France. Castles appeared somewhat later, with the earliest examples being constructed around the turn of the first millennium. They differed from earlier fortifications by being smaller and taller: the distinctive feature of early castle design was

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