Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Tuesday 9th August 2022

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 [1] Conquest the stone keepGlossary Term [2] 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 [3] 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 [4]. 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. 

Last updated: Saturday, 25th April 2009