The 11th and 12th centuries are very evident in the European landscape thanks to monuments in stone. Abbeys, cathedrals and other churches in Romanesque style can be counted in their hundreds with some considerable concentrations as in the Bessin coastal area or on the banks of the Pouille in Normandy. Similar concentrations exist in England in, for example, parts of Norfolk or the York area.
Norman castles, often in a good state of preservation, are widely distributed throughout much of Britain and are numerous in certain areas such as the English – Welsh border. In southern Italy many large and well-preserved keeps of Anglo-Norman type can be found still in their original condition. Others exist in Normandy, although they have sometimes suffered from wilful damage by the kings of France, worried by the independent spirit of the Normans and striving to centralise their power.
Domestic residences, because they were usually built in a less substantial manner than castles, are largely known through archaeology, although some stone-built halls and houses have been miraculously spared in successive reconstruction episodes.
More accessible than written sources, more numerous and varied than manuscripts and artefacts, Romanesque monuments in stone are the richest introduction to our knowledge of the Norman world of the middle ages.