The motte stands on the hilltops overlooking the village of Merey, in the Eure valley. Its dimensions are very modest, hardly more than about ten metres at its base and the plan of the fortification, including the remains of a semi-circular bailey upstream of the motte, are classic. Moreover, there is no knowledge of its past, as the castle has not appeared in any texts. Nonetheless, the site is of exceptional interest, as it is one of the very rare cases in France to have revealed clear traces of a wooden tower on a motte.
This discovery, dating to the end of the 1920s, was made by Abbot Philippe, an experienced archaeologist, well known for the research he directed during numerous years on the proto-historic site of Fort-Harrouard. He left a very precise report on his dig. The structure brought to light on the flanks of the motte corresponds to the base of a wooden square tower 3.50 metres square. The four corner irons were squared off in 40cm sections, joined by transversal beams 16cm thick. The structure was buried in the backfill of the motte to guarantee its stability on solid ground. These observations confirm a famous scene from the Bayeux Tapestry, showing William the Conqueror’s men constructing a wooden tower on a motte in Hastings: a timber structure can clearly be seen being built and the motte being filled in.
Jacques Le Maho
- J. le
Maho, “Notes de castellologie Haut-Normandie: châteaux à motte, enceintes et églises fortifiées
(XI-XII)”, Autour du château médiéval, Société Historique et Archéologique de
l’Orne, Mémoires et documents n° 1, 1998, p. 233-237.