Liste des sites de la Campagne de Caen

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(canton de Caen, Calvados)

Castle, the keep

    The 11th century castle of Caen consisted firstly of a giant enclosure extending over 5 hectares (12.5 acres). At that time, the main entrance was to the north, strongly defended by a tower forming part of the gateway set in the most vulnerable section of the ramparts. The ducal residence consisted of several buildings including a chapel, situated in the north-west part of the enclosure, and all the southern part was taken up by the parish of St.George and its church. Of the former ducal Palace, only traces of the foundations brought to light during archaeological investigations remain.

In the 12th century, the castle already began to look quite different. Henry I made two important additions to his father's castle - the keep and the Great Banqueting Hall (aula) known as the Exchequer Hall. The keep was built around 1120. Only the base remains. It was a great square tower, flanked by buttresses with the characteristics of so many Anglo-Norman castles of this type, a thick internal wall and the entrance gateway at first floor level. The Great Hall of the palace consisted of two floors, the upper floor for banquets and the holding of court, the ground floor for kitchens and whatever was necessary for the court reception.

After 1204 and the absorption of Normandy into the French crown lands, King Philippe-Auguste made the keep quite independent of the rest of the castle by building a chemise wall with four round towers, further protected by the cutting of a deep ditch into the rock face. The 11th century tower gateway was taken down along with a section of the castle wall.


- Mémoires du château de Caen / textes réunis par Jean-Yves Marin et Jean-Marie Levesque. - Caen : Musée de Normandie. Paris : Skira-Seuil, 2000. - 176 p
- Il castello di Caen in Normandia : Nuovi rilievi alle strutture architettoniche, contributi per il restauro e la valorizzazione / a cura di Luigi Marino. - Firenze : Università di Firenze, Dipartimento di Storia dell'Architettura e Restauro delle Strutture Architettoniche. Ville de Caen, Musée de Normandie, 2000, 31 p
- Le Château de Caen / Michel de Boüard. - Caen : CRAM, 1979, 149 p