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motte. Steep artificial earthen mound or tumulus on which a keep or fortress stood in a C11 or C12 military structure, usually associated with the Anglo-Normans in the British Isles. It was sometimes surrounded by a ditch, but more often with an enclosed space. Motte-and-bailey was a defensive structure consisting of a tower (often of timber) on a motte, sited inside a bailey enclosed by a ditch, bank, and palisade.