The bailey or ward in a fortification is a courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall. In particular, an early type of European castle was known as a motte-and-bailey. Castles can have more than one bailey. Their layout depends both on the local topography and the level of fortification technology employed, ranging from simple enclosures to elaborate concentric defences.
|Chepstow Castle (carneycastle.com)|
In general, baileys could have any shape, including irregular or elongated ones, when the walls followed the contour lines of the terrain where the castle was sited. Rectangular shapes are very common, where the terrain allows.
|Okehampton Castle bailey|
The main hall would be on an upper floor, accessed by a sweeping set of steps, and the residential rooms either above the hall or built along one side of the inner bailey. There were rooms in the towers too: often the chapel, the prison, and guardrooms. Some castles had the kitchen below the main hall, so the hot food didn't have to be carried so far.
If the bailey was large enough, areas would be set aside for the knights and squires to practice sword skills and even jousting. Mounted knights would aim their lances at a dummy or a ring and ride up at speed. Whole tournaments could be held inside some castles' baileys.
|Belvoir Castle Jerusalem|
[adapted from The Medieval Castle Haynes Manual by Charles Phillips and Wikipedia]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz