A medieval castle keep was a kind of fortified tower that had central importance in the defence of the castle. It also served the purpose of imprisoning political prisoners since it was considered one of the most impenetrable castle parts. Medieval Castle Keeps became to be constructed with castles after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 when Motte and Bailey castles gained prominence.
Political prisoners were not very often kept in the medieval castle keep during the middle medieval times so it served the purpose of housing the Lord of the residents of the castle. This was because it was considered the safest place of all castle parts. The living quarters of the lord were generally within the easy access to the medieval castle keep. The top most part of the medieval castle keep generally served as the Lords residence.
A Medieval castles keep was among those castle parts whose charge was not permanently given to a single person. This was because a medieval castle keep could serve different purposes at different times. When it was used for defence purposes, its charge would be given to the knight responsible for defence. Similarly, in other cases, its change would be shifted over to someone overlooking storage or managing the living quarters.
A medieval castle keep, just like many other castle parts, served multiple purposes. The most obvious purpose was to act as the residence of the lord of the castle. For this, the top most portion of the keep was reserved. The bottom part of the keep was generally reserved for storage while the middle one was the great hall. During the late medieval times, the castle keep also served the purpose of imprisoning political prisoners. Finally, during the invasions by enemy armies, the castle keep would also serve defence purpose since it was located at a higher point and could be used effectively by archers.
During the middle medieval times, it was common to make the medieval castle keeps from wood. However, during the late medieval times, medieval castle keeps also began to be constructed with stone. The keep made of wood was always in a danger of catching fire in case of an attack while keeps made of stone would be more secure. However, these latter types of medieval castle keeps were hard to construct and came at a considerably higher cost.
A medieval castle keep was among the most important castle parts from a defence perspective. The main way to defend a castle keep and thus the castle was to dig a tunnel underneath the keep and fill one end of the tunnel with an explosive material. This would cause the keep to collapse when the enemy would be entering the tunnel. Another important way to defend a medieval castle keep was simply to build a moat around the castle and keep the invading enemy away from the keep.
Medieval castle keeps became important among the castle parts of a medieval castle after the Normal Conquest of England. Initially, the keeps were mainly constructed of wood but as time passed, stone began to be used for the construction of a medieval castle keep. Other than living and storage purposes, a medieval castle keep was also important with the defensive point of view in mind.