Exemplar 2: How Were Medieval Castles Built?

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How were medieval castles built from a defensive perspective?

To see a medieval castle click here!

     Medieval Castles were built out of certain materials that were stronger than others, had strong points throughout the structure, and different types of traps and tricks throughout them.  

Background Information:

 Castles as well as the Medieval Times or also know as the Dark ages, are very important to our worlds history. They were built to provide defense to royalty and insiders. This was a time of new invention and ideas being brought out. Building materials were thought out more thoroughly and put to day to day test in real life situations involving war. There are many different types of castles and some still stand until this day (view Emaze) Some castles you are able to go inside on tours and some even are used as hotels. By visiting these great structures, you're taking a trip back in time to see how "inside" castle living truly was.

To learn more about defending a castle visit this site!!


As a first view on "what was the most effective type of castle" on an online discussion board @Trinopus said that the Moat and Bailey castles were the most effective castles in defense because they were up on hills which made them harder to get to and attack. They were also effective with maintaining internal security.

@Chimera states that a castle that was built on an island was the most effective castle to defense. This was because it's very hard to get to and there is no surrounding grounds to wear a large number of enemies could charge the castle. Enemies also had difficulties bringing weapons such as cataplts and such that could cause major damage to a castles structure.

What were the materials used to build a castle and how effective were they?
    In the beginning, castles were built out of materials that constructors learned weren't the best materials to be using.  When castles were first built they were made out of wood. However, constructors soon came to realize that this was not a quality building material. Reason being was that wood burns very easily and after a certain time wood started to rot and become weak. This was then to the enemies advantage beings the wood would become soft and even more easy to break through. Also, if the opposing side had fire, the castle would be very easy to enter and destroy. Over time castle constructors decided that the right material to use would be stone. Stone walls and structures were much more durable than wood therefore making it harder for the opposing enemy to break through into the castle. However, there were still a few problems with stone castles. Before the Idea of "Concentric Walls" (View Prezi & the link below) stone castles as well had their weak points. The enemy soon started to realize that if they dug out the soil or ground beneath each corner of the castle walls, they would collapse. So, after this the builders of these castles put more thought into things coming up with the idea of concentric walls. Eventually "rubble core" a layer of stone and concrete between the walls was put in. This made the walls thicker and harder for the opposing side to break through. 

   This is a wooden Mote and Bailey castle. As you can
   see the structure of it does not look like it would                    
   be able to handle much damage. That is why castle 
   constructors started to build with stone. 

To learn more about Concentric Castles, click here

This is a castle that was built out of stone. It was 
able to withstand much more damage than wood. 
However the fact that the walls could easily be 
collapsed by the enemy made the men inside 
very vulnerable. 

What were a castles strong points?

    Castles had many strong points that helped them defend against the intruding enemy. One of a castles main strong points was its turrets or, look out towers (see picture to right). These provided a huge advantage for the soldiers inside of the castle. This was because they were able to see attacking enemies from miles away without the enemy knowing. This gave the castle insiders more time to get ready for the intruders. To do so, some castles would have archers set up on top of the castle to surprise the enemy. Castles also had Arrow loops on the towers and walls which let an archer shoot through them while having protection. Originally, these towers were made with square bases but soon were made round. This was because a cylinder is much harder to knock over than a square based tower. Another major strong point that castles had was there the rounded edges and corners. Castles were starting to have more rounded components to them than square edges. Reason being was because the constructors were realizing roundness absorbed more shock and damage. There was a lip called a "batter" (visit picture below)  

This batter added much needed strength to the wall and helped support it. Keep in mind these walls were very thick and were made of stone and cement so they needed as much support as possible. Especially beings they were getting heavy rocks catapulted at them. The lip also provided as a weapon towards the enemy. This was because the men inside on the castle walls could drop things such as rocks and they would bounce out at the enemy on the ground. Another major strong point on a castle was its Gatehouse. A castles Gatehouse was at the front of the castle where the main gate or drawbridge was located (see picture below). They were constructed to where if the enemy got in the men inside the castle would be able to close the gate and trap the enemy inside a small room. The men in the castle or soldiers, would be above the trapped men and shoot arrows through small holes in the ceiling to kill the men inside. Overall a castle had many strong defensive and structure points too them. For further information visit the Padlet at the bottom of the page and click here for more defensive strong points!

This is the gate house where the enemy was most likely to try to get in here first. It was very dangerous for the outside enemy and a key defense to a castle.
The most common way that these turrets 
were used was to view enemies off in the 
distance that way the castle had more 
time to arm itself.

Visit this link to take a look at the types of castles!

What were the different types of traps and tricks castles had to them?

    Castles were built to defend in many different ways. One of them being traps and tricks that would be placed throughout them. Many people take into assumption that a castles moat is on the outside of the castle. For those that believe there are crocodiles in the moat that is false as well. Castles from the beginning were built to defend and keep unwanted people out. It was a learning experience for the men that made the castles because as things went on and more things on the castle got damaged they developed more improved and stronger ways. One of these being the moat. Before the moat enemies would dig under the walls of the castle to collapse them. The moat was put in so if anyone tried to do so they would be flooded and hopefully drowned. It was also on the inside of the first wall with another wall behind it to make it even harder for intruders to get in. One of the many tricks the soldiers inside the castle had was tunnels underground. They would use these tunnels as an escape to get out if the castle was taken over by the intruders. It was also used to bring goods and weapons in and out of the castle. The tunnels were also dug to go in different directions so that it was very easy to get lost if you didn't know where you were going or had never been in them such as the enemy. (see image below) As you learned before about the concentric walls, each layer of walling could possibly have a different obstacle to it. Much like the gatehouse, when the intruders broke into one layer of the walls, the soldiers inside would shut gates that locked the men in a small courtyard as the castles soldiers would fire arrows and stones from above at the intruders on the ground.