During medieval times a wide variety of impressive and not so impressive wooden and stone castles of varying sizes were constructed all over Europe. Although castle building was prevalent during early medieval times, most of the medieval castles that were constructed that became famous were built during the middle (high) and later medieval times. This trend particularly started after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and became more intense during and after the Crusades. Famous medieval castles that were built during this medieval period can be found in most of the countries of Europe and many are still standing to this day.
The trend of building grand castles hardly existed in the early medieval times. Therefore, there aren’t many famous medieval castles during this era. The trend of building castles emerged during the ending years of early Middle Ages, mainly in the 9th century AD, upon the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire, when power was largely in the hands of the local lords without any central authority. A famous medieval castle from this era is Château de Doué-la-Fontaine in France which is also considered the oldest standing castle throughout Europe.
With the Norman Conquest of England, early medieval times came to an end and a new era began. After the Norman conquest, a string of castles with new techniques were built all over England to consolidate the Normans rule in the country. Amongst the initial famous medieval castles from the Norman period were Alnwick Castle built in 1096, Appleby Castle built in 1100 and Arundel Castle build in 1068. Other famous medieval castles from the Norman Period include Berkeley Castle built in 1091, Cainhoe Castle built in the late 11th century, Devizes Castle built in 1080, and others.
During early medieval times, castle designs imitated the designs of the Romans. The Main focus of medieval castle design was given to building fortifications and there were no elaborate designs. With the Norman Conquest emerged the Motte and Bailey castles which transformed the art of castle building. This also gave rise to new designs for famous medieval castles. Essential elements of these famous medieval castles included corner towers, castle keeps, curtain walls, gatehouses, castle moats, and other important castle parts that helped to advance medieval castle design as the medieval period progressed.
Names of various famous medieval castle designers and architects were recorded in medieval times and we have some good information regarding the Famous Castle designers of the medieval period. Among the earliest known designers of famous medieval castles was Gundulf who also became the Bishop of Rochester after the Norman Conquest. Gundulf was employed by William the Conqueror for the construction of the famous White Tower in London in addition to working on Rochester Castle and Colchester Castle. Other famous medieval castle designers of medieval times include Robert de Belleme and Henry Yeverley etc.
After the Norman Conquest, England saw an upsurge in castle building throughout the country. These castles were built in and around major towns to serve as strategic defence. One of the most famous medieval castles in England built during this medieval period is Bodiam Castle which was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge for Edward II. Other famous medieval castles in England include Dover Castle, Warwick Castle, Leeds Castle, and others.
The trend of building large and elaborate castles began with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Before that, there were hardly any castles of note in Europe. After the Norman period, many castles were constructed all over England that have become famous and the trend of building better designed castles also gained prominence throughout Europe because of the invasions coming from the North and East.