I first found Tutbury Castle in a footnote. It met my criteria for an early Norman site, a small, possibly obscure, or even abandoned place where my fictional characters could live without competing with well-known personages of the time. Tutbury was originally called Totta, from the Scandinavian meaning hill fort. It predated the Norman Invasion and was once the seat of the Mercian kings.
The events and attributes of Tutbury Castle mentioned in the Turnabout Books are imaginary. In Knight’s Pawn, my characters construct a barebones motte and bailey castle in 1067, although historians speculate that the Normans began building it between 1068-1071. My fictional monastic cell anticipates the priory founded at Tutbury around 1080.
The castle has a rich medieval history, filled with daring, rebellion, and treason. About three hundred years after the Normans settled the site, it became a center of arts, music–and power. Later, Mary Queen of Scots lived there before her execution. Hints of its glorious past remain in the surviving buildings. Check out the Castle’s website.