Medieval Castles

The word castle comes from the latin word Castellum, they were fortified medieval structures that offered protection to nobility and other classes of people, although there were exceptions where medieval castles were used strictly for strategic positioning.

Medieval Castles were a European innovation that originated in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Nobles of those times built castles to control the surrounding areas and to protect their families and wealth from rivals, It was also made it easier to plan and co-ordinate raids on other castles, towns and villages and you could always run back to the safety your own castle.

The Medieval castles during the period were divided into castles owned by the king and castles owned by Anglo-Norman Lords. The main castles of the medieval period were those of the king and other nobles and these were the castles of the time that offered the best protection. Urban castles which were also owned by the king were enforced by sheriff like people who were ordered by the king to keep peace in those lands.

10 Stunning Castles in Scotland

Discover 10 Stunning Castles in Scotland that are well worth visiting! Read more about the 10 Stunning Castles in Scotland >>

6 Amazing Castles in Scotland

Scottish castles are known their beauty, coupled with a wonderful highland or Loch Setting Read more about the 6 Amazing Castles in Scotland >>

8 Stunning Castles in Italy

The construction of the earliest medieval castles in Italy came about in the 10th century Read more about the 8 Stunning Castles in Italy >>

9 Great German Castles

9 Great German Castles from the Medieval and Renaissance period that are well worth visiting Read more about the 9 Great German Castles >>

Best Castle Design

The best medieval castle designs for both defence and aesthetic appeal came in the later parts of the medieval period... Read more about the Best Castle Design >>

Best Castles in the United Kingdom

Discover the Best Medieval Castles in England, Scotland and Wales to visit Read more about the Best Castles in the United Kingdom >>

Castle Design History

Medieval Castles were of a much more basic design in the earlier medieval periods, as the medieval period progressed castle design became much more sophisticated Read more about the Castle Design History >>

Castle Entertainment

Falconry was a popular Medieval Castle Entertainment

Medieval Castle Entertainment was important in medieval times, Medieval Castle Entertainment kept the medieval people who worked in the Medieval Castle in good spirits. Read more about the Castle Entertainment >>

Castle Moat Defense

The key purpose of a 'Castle Moat' was to stop the enemy from marching directly on to the walls of a castle. Read more about the Castle Moat Defense >>

Castle Weapons List

Castles used a number of weapons in defence, the castle defence weapons list includes details on Catapults, Rocks, Crossbows that were often used Read more about the Castle Weapons List >>

Castle, Evolution, Purpose and Design!

Discover how Medieval Castles Evolved throughout the Medieval Period Read more about the Castle, Evolution, Purpose and Design! >>

Castles – Jobs, Staff and Roles!

Medieval castles usually housed a powerful lord who employed a huge number of servants. Read more about the Castles – Jobs, Staff and Roles! >>

Castles in France – Top 9

Discover 9 Stunning Castles in France from the Middle Ages that you might want to visit  Read more about the Castles in France – Top 9 >>

Castles in Ireland

Most of the castles built in Ireland during the medieval ages were built by Norman barons and lords Read more about the Castles in Ireland >>

Castles in Wales – Top 12

Wales can boast to have the 'greatest number of castles' from the middle ages in the world! Read more about the Castles in Wales – Top 12 >>

Castles Strategic Locations

Medieval Castles were located in Strategic Locations to ensure that the Castle and it's inhabitants had the best chance of survival.. Read more about the Castles Strategic Locations >>

Concentric Castles

Medieval Concentric Castle From Above

Concentric castles had several outer walls that made them difficult to attack! Read more about the Concentric Castles >>

Early Medieval Castles

Early Medieval Castles were easier and quicker to construct in early medieval times and the Norman Motte and Bailey Castle design was popular Read more about the Early Medieval Castles >>

Famous Medieval Castles

Tower of London as viewed from the river Thames

Medieval Castles that have become famous were mainly built during later medieval times, there were many famous castles built during the Norman period of England's Medieval History. Read more about the Famous Medieval Castles >>

Late Medieval Castles

Late Medieval Castles were made of stone blocks which was harder to destroy and new Concentric castles added greater defences still Read more about the Late Medieval Castles >>

Looking after a Castle – Castle Upkeep!

A typical medieval castle housed a notable lord and doubled as a military fortification. Read more about the Looking after a Castle – Castle Upkeep! >>

Making a Castle Moat

Making a Castle Moat was quite an endeavour with moats being around 12 feet wide and 30ft deep, even bigger in some of the grander medieval castles of later medieval times Read more about the Making a Castle Moat >>

Medieval Castle Defences

A Medieval Castles Defences are being tested in an attack

Medieval Castles were usually built quickly when a region or country had been defeated by the kings armies... Read more about the Medieval Castle Defences >>

Medieval Castle Designs

Bodiam Castle Medieval Castle Design

Early medieval castles were built quickly with the main focus of early medieval castles design being defense, as the medieval period advanced so did medieval castle design. Read more about the Medieval Castle Designs >>

Medieval Castle History

Medieval Castle History

Most of the stunning medieval castles were built in later medieval times in Motte and Bailey designs and later magnificent Concentric castles Read more about the Medieval Castle History >>

Medieval Castle Life

A Medieval Knights Rides towards the Gates of a Medieval Castle

Life in a Medieval Castle was hard for lower level staff however the Lord of the Castle lived in Luxury in the Castle Keep. Read more about the Medieval Castle Life >>

Medieval Castle Military

The medieval castle was a large fortification that needed a large number of Troops to defend it from attack such as knights, guards and archers Read more about the Medieval Castle Military >>

Medieval Castle Parts

Medieval Castle Parts

The were many castle parts that made up a medieval Castle and as medieval weaponry improved so did the defensive parts of a castle. Read more about the Medieval Castle Parts >>

Medieval Castle Siege

Battering Rams and Trebuchets (giant catapults) were popular castle siege weapons... Read more about the Medieval Castle Siege >>

Medieval Castle Staff

Medieval Castle Staff Cooking for the Medieval King

Medieval Castle Staff usually lived in Medieval Castles on a permanent basis and provided all the labour required to keep the medieval castle running... Read more about the Medieval Castle Staff >>

Medieval Castles Q & A

We have answered many of the Questions we are regularly asked about Medieval Castles in this Question and Answers Article Read more about the Medieval Castles Q & A >>

Medieval English Castles

Two of the most famous English Castles from the middle ages are 'Warwick and Windsor Castle'. Read more about the Medieval English Castles >>

Medieval Norman Castles

Medieval Norman Castle Medieval Times

A network of Norman castles sprung up around Britain after the Norman conquest of England of 1066 Read more about the Medieval Norman Castles >>

Motte & Bailey Castles

Motte and Bailey Castles were a quick and easy way to build castles, they were built on dirt mounds the Motte and a lower part was called the Bailey Read more about the Motte & Bailey Castles >>

Spanish Castles

Discover the best medieval castles in Spain that are well worth visiting Read more about the Spanish Castles >>

Top 10 Castles in England

Top 10 Castles in England - Discover 10 of the Most Magnificent Castles in England! Read more about the Top 10 Castles in England >>

Medieval Castle Design

Medieval times were brutal and Nobility needed to protect their families and wealth from enemies at home and abroad.

The medieval castle provided this protection and gave Nobility a base to launch attacks on other wealthy rivals and to maintain their power and wealth.

In the earliest of medieval times Castles were built in strategic positions and their main purpose was to protect supplies from any threat.

The majority of Castles were being built in the cities and their only goal was as a safe residence for the lords of England

In the medieval period that followed, invasions by foreign enemies against England and Wales resulted in several variations of Medieval Castles being built with the goal of improving castle Defenses!

The most popular design was the Motte and Bailey Castle, which was a simple design that consisted of a dirt pile called a Motte poured on one location – this would then support a wooden tower and a large enclosed area built alongside it which was called a Bailey.

After England was invaded by the Normans only two castles were built using stone, in Romanesque style and their purpose was military defense , as well as looking good.

All other castles were made from a mixture of wood and dirt and mixture of the two famous Motte and Bailey design and ring works.

The ring works design was easier and faster to make which consisted of earth being built up in a circular or oval shape and then topped off with a wooden rampart.

Medieval Castles Siege

Medieval Castles – Medieval Castle Siege weapons and Armies

Medieval Castle Attack and Defense

In early medieval times, Castles could simply be avoided.

The usual area of which a castle could count as influential would be around 400 meters (1300 ft) and almost all their weapons (even in the early ages of artillery ) had a short range of fire.

During times of peace castles that did not have any significant importance to an area and were less manned than those with higher importance.

Usually the guard would consists of a few watchmen and gate guards.

During times of war, too many soldiers defending a castle could put a strain on supplies and impair the castle’s ability to withstand a long siege.

Medieval Castle History

The idea to build fortified structures first came up when the accumulation of wealth and resources was increasing and nobles started to lack safe places to store them.

The earliest types of fortifications originated in the lands of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt. China also had settlements which were protected by large walls .
The northern part of Europe started their defensive structures later than the eastern part and as soon as the Bronze Age came, hill forts started popping up in lands right across Europe.

Construction of castles used the early forms of architecture and all castles were built according to the surrounding region and country which they were protecting. The castles were built to house military units and nobility.

Early Medieval Castles Portchester Castle England

Early medieval Castles such as Portchester Castle in England

Early Medieval Castles

The oldest types of castles were used as a defense against invading tribes who only had one idea in their mind, to steal everything you had.

The first basic forms of castle defenses originated from fortifications that were for the benefit of noble families.

The castles which survived the attacks and raids provided the castle’s lord further chances for improvement of the castle and more control of the surrounding lands. It allowed room for expansion, not just for lands but even administrative functions and unit garrisons.

Castle Siege – Medieval Castle Attack

If taking a castle was the mission, most of the time a siege would be laid upon it.

A direct attack could be ordered but it was better and more tactically astute to place a siege upon a castle, which would penalize the castles guards morale, food supplies and will to fight.

Without relief from an external source, the defenders of the castle would eventually submit.

A Siege could last weeks, months and in rare occasions the siege could last for a year, if the castles supplies permitted it so.

Medieval Castle Medieval Windsor Castle

The English Medieval Castle Windsor castle is a famous medieval castle

English Medieval Castles

England is one of the best places in the world to see good examples of medieval castles, England has always been a country involved in warfare and and you can see medieval castles in great condition all over the country.

Warwick Castle in Warwickshire is a fine example of a medieval castle, it was built by William the conqueror in 1068 and is a grand highly fortified castle that was very advanced in medieval times.

The tower of London is also classed as a medieval castle and it is located right in the middle of London on the north bank of the river Thames.

A lesser know medieval castle is Bodiam in East Sussex, this is an almost perfect example of a late medieval castle was built with a moat.

It was built as a compact but well defended medieval castle.

European Medieval Castles

The medieval castles of Europe first appeared in Normandy France and were usually a Motte and Bailey design, which was basically where dirt was removed to make a large mound in the middle and a ditch around the structure, they began to appear around the 900’s in Europe.

The Bayeux Tapestry in France actually shows images of the first European castles, there was usually a wall that enclosed the Bailey.

A tower was built at the top of the mound and wooden palisade that ran around it.

There are many stunning castles scattered around Europe that were built during the medieval period

Medieval Castle Parts Harlech Castle

Medieval Castles Parts Harlech Castle with castle parts indicated

Medieval Castle Parts

Although castle design varied widely throughout Europe, there were some similar features that many castles incorporated.

Medieval castles design and features differed across Europe, however there were some similarities and Castle Parts, that many castles shared.

Arrow slits

As the name suggests Arrow slits were narrow gaps at the castle walls to protect the castle and allowed archers to shoot arrows at Castle attackers in relative safety from height.

  • The narrowness of the Arrow slits in the walls protected the archers from incoming fire from the castles attackers.

Castle battlements

Battlements were basically gaps that allowed soldiers within the castles to fire upon attackers in defense of the castle whilst still having a wall to hide behind for protection.

Curtain wall

A castles curtain wall stretched around the castle as a walkway so that people could patrol around the castle easily looking for any dangers and potential attacks.

The castle wall also helped soldiers use different parts of the castle quickly and helped them move weapons to defend the castle to the areas where attacks were taking place.

The Castle keep

The Castle keep was a kind of safe room, a place where soldiers, royalty and others could seek refuge if the rest of the castle had fallen into enemy hands, the keep was a large tower structure and usually a place where a last stand was made by medieval soldiers defending a castle.

Castle Gatehouse

This was built at the entrance of the castle at the castle gate because the gate was the weakest point of the castle’s defences, the castle gatehouse helped to reinforce this area against enemy attack.

Castle Moat

This is effectively a deep ditch which was dug out around the castle and was commonly filled with water, this extra obstacle against attackers gave the soldiers inside a castle more time to injure and kill people attacking the castle.

Usually there was a drawbridge at the entrance of the castle to allow supplies, weapons, military and other personnel into the castle across the castle moat

Medieval Castles French Castle Carcassonne

Medieval Castles French Castle Carcassonne

Famous Medieval Castles

Chateau Gaillard in France – a beautiful medieval castle was built in France by the famous Richard the Lion-heart.

Cite de Carcassonne – Another beautiful medieval castle built in France it was started by the Romans but is still a medieval castle.

Leeds Castle – was the residence of King Edward and is a well built medieval castle it is believe it was built in 1119 in the early part of the medieval period

Windsor CastleWindsor Castle is home to Queen Elizabeth the Queen of England, it is a beautiful medieval castle that was built by William the Conqueror after he had conquered England and become its ruler in 1066.

Tower of London – This is another castle that was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 he started building the large white tower, this was the place that many traitors were executed and where torture took place, it has served as a armory prison, royal palace and Treasury amongst other things during its great history

Medieval Castles of Today

The great country houses, built from stone or wood in the seventeenth to twentieth century were, and always will be, castles of their day.

These famous structures have very little military use in the 21st century and almost all of the remaining castles and their features are used as tourist attractions with guided tours and detailed historical activity about their medieval pasts.

Restoration of the castles was usually required if the castles were badly damaged during wars or conflicts and some were fitted with new staircases, walking path and restored towers.

Medieval Castles Resources List Below

This is a Great Medieval Castle Book for Young Kids By Haynes Books!

This Book Gives a Serious Look at Medieval Castles for Older Learners!

This is a Nice Activity Book for Younger Children on Medieval Castles!

There are Some lovely Illustrations in this book for Children!

Medieval Castle Leeds Castle

Medieval Castle Leeds Castle is set in a stunning location

The White Tower of London

Medieval Castles Tower of London White tower london has a history of Be-headings

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