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Building Types


The Medieval Castle

Interactive - The medieval castle

The medieval castle developed from the 11th century as a defensive structure for the household and followers of a monarch, his representative or member of the aristocracy. Early castles were earthworks protecting timber buildings. After the NormanGlossary Term Conquest the stone keepGlossary Term was introduced as a more permanent last resort within the castle enclosure, its access at first floor level protected by a forebuilding. From the 13th century a stone curtain wallGlossary Term and mural towers commanding an outer ditch provided additional defence, strengthened by an increasingly sophisticated gatehouse, crossed by a drawbridge across the ditch, and sometimes given additional protection by an outer barbicanGlossary Term. Within the walls was domestic accommodation providing Great Hall, kitchen and Lodgings. In the later Middle Ages these were often rebuilt and improved. By this time, as much of the country became more settled, except on the borderland with Scotland and on the coast, castles were more significant as status symbols than for purely defensive purposes. 



Outwork defending the entrance to a castle.

Curtain wall

A non-load-bearing external wall applied to a framed structure, in architecture of the 20th century onwards. Also a connecting wall between the towers of a castle.


Principal tower of a castle.


The English version of the Romanesque style, which predominated in Western Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries; so called because it was propagated after the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is associated especially with the expansion of monasticism and the building of large stone churches, and is characterized by massive masonry, round-headed arches and vaulting inspired by ancient Roman precedent, and by the use of stylized ornament.