Medieval Castle Parts

Learn about the Parts of a Medieval Castle such as the Castle Keep Stronghold that Housed the Mighty Lord, his family, and all the Important Castle Workers


Discover all the Important Defensive parts of a Castle such as Battlements, Gatehouses, and Moats! Learn about a Castles Deadly Dungeons, Murder Holes, Arrow Slits, Machicolations, Portcullis, and Much More!

Castle Arrowslits *Arrow Loops

White Castle Arrow Slit

Arrow Slits help to protect a castle archers from enemy fire, whilst allowing him to fire arrows accurately from inside the Castles wall embrasures Read more about the Castle Arrowslits *Arrow Loops >>

Castle Barbican

Medieval Castle Barbican

A medieval castle Barbican jutted out from the main entrance of a medieval castle, it offered additional protection to the weakess part of a medieval castle Read more about the Castle Barbican >>

Castle Battlements

Medieval Castle Paraphet Small Wall of Battlement

Medieval Castle battlements were basically small defensive walls at the top of a castle's main walls with gaps (Crenels) and solid parts (Merlons). Read more about the Castle Battlements >>

Castle Drawbridge

Medieval Castle Drawbridge

Drawbridges were made of heavy wood that was commonly metal plated. Read more about the Castle Drawbridge >>

Castle Dungeon

Medieval Castle Dungeons Edinburgh Castle Dungeons

Medieval Dungeons were dark damp places where religious and political enemies amongst other's were held and tortured Read more about the Castle Dungeon >>

Castle Gatehouse

Dean Castle Medieval Castle Gatehouse

A Castle Gatehouse was a part of a castle that developed over time, the Castle Gatehouse was devised as an additional structure to defend a castles entrance which was the weakest point. Read more about the Castle Gatehouse >>

Castle Keep

Medieval Castle Keep Rochester Castle Castle Keep

Medieval Castle Keeps could be used for several purpose, however the Medieval castle Keep was usually the area in which the Lord of the Castle Lived and also housed the Great Hall for Banquets. Read more about the Castle Keep >>

Castle Machicolations

Castle Machicolations

Castle Machicolation created a platform that jutted out from the castle walls, holes were added that hot liquids & rocks could be dropped from Read more about the Castle Machicolations >>

Castle Moat

Medieval Castle Moat Ariel View - Parts of a Medieval Castle

Medieval Castle moats were a simple but very effective defensive part of a medieval castle, they were often filled with water, but could also be dry moats that were filled with various items that would injure the enemy. Read more about the Castle Moat >>

Castle Murder Holes

Bodiam Castle Ceiling Murder Holes

Medieval murder holes were built into the design of a castles defences. Murder holes were placed around a castles curtain walls and were essential defences around a castles entrance. Read more about the Castle Murder Holes >>

Castle Oubliette

Castle Oubliette Entrance Chateau

Oubliette dungeons were very deep, narrow and confined individual dungeons that offered no chance of escape and sent people crazy Read more about the Castle Oubliette >>

Castle Portcullis

Castle Portcullis of Medieval Castle

Castle Portcullis were highly effective additional defences for a castles entrances, a Castle Portcullis was usually made from a strong type of wood and could also be plated in iron for additional strength. Read more about the Castle Portcullis >>

Castle Ramparts

Peel Castle Ramparts

The castles rampart formed the defensive boundary of a castle, it was commonly used when building motte and bailey castles Read more about the Castle Ramparts >>

Castle Towers

Medieval Castle Tower Windsor Tower

Medieval Castle Towers helped castle staff look for enemies and other people approaching the medieval castle. Medieval Castle Towers were permanently manned by guards. Read more about the Castle Towers >>

Castle Turrets

Turrets Medieval Castles

Castle Turrets were added to medieval castles as additional lookout points, turrets were much smaller than a castles main towers Read more about the Castle Turrets >>

Castle Walls

Medieval Castles Walls Red Castle Wall in Tripoli Libya

Medieval Castle Walls were the main parts of the castle's defence, some castles called concentric castle had two castle walls and interior and exterior castle wall for additional defensive protection. Read more about the Castle Walls >>

Castle Watchtowers

Medieval Watchtowers Castle Parts

Medieval watchtowers were built as part of the castles structure, watchtowers gave an early warning of approaching enemy soldiers and were usually manned all year round. Read more about the Castle Watchtowers >>



Medieval Castle Parts Harlech Castle

Medieval Castle Parts –*Keep

One of the most important parts of the medieval castle was the Castle Keep. Historically the keep was the castle, other parts such as the curtain walls and towers were added to protect the castle keep and this is what we now picture as the castle. There is no doubt therefore that the castle keep is the main and most important part of the castle.

The keep was a stronghold that usually housed the king, lord and his family, all the important people and services were usually found within the castle keep.

Portchester Castle Keep - Medieval Castle Parts

Portchester Castle Keep

Read More about Medieval Castle Part- The Keep


Medieval Castle Parts –*Moats

Moats were of supreme importance in the defence of a medieval castle. A medieval castle moat was basically a deep and wide ditch that surrounded the castle and served as reliable protection against enemy assaults. A castle moat provided by a natural source was commonly much wider and deeper than a man-made moat.

Natural Castle Moat - Medieval Castle Parts

Natural Moat

Man-made castle moats were commonly around 12 feet wide and 30 feet deep but could have been wider and deeper.

Man Made Castle Moat Medieval Castle Parts

Man-Made Castle Moat

Castle moats were usually filled with water which was one of the reasons why most castles were built near a water source such as a river or a stream. Often castles were built on an Island or the edge of a lake or stream.

Read More about Medieval Castle Part – The Moat


Medieval Castle Parts *Ramparts

Castle ramparts were commonly composed of a bank of earth and stone called ‘earthwork’ which served as a defensive structure upon which a castles walls were built.

Castle Parts - Ramparts of Carcassonne Castle in France

Carcassonne Castle France Ramparts

A small wall called a parapet was commonly built on top of a castles walls, this was then crenelated giving it a toothed appearance and creating a battlement area where soldiers could defend the castle from.

Castle Battlement Crenels

The Castle Battlement parapet (small wall) and Gaps (Crenels) Solid Stone Merlons

castle-battlement-close-up

Crenelation was often added to a castles towers.

windsor-castle-towers-medieval-castle-parts

Windsor Castle

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Medieval Castle Parts *Walls

Medieval castle walls were central to a castle’s defence, the width and type varied from castle to castle. It was common to build medieval castle walls of widths ranging from 8 feet to 20 feet. Castle walls were joined by large towers that served a defensive purpose.

Caernarfon-Castle-in-Wales

Medieval Castle Parts - Walls

At the top of the medieval castle walls were crenellated battlements from which to defend the castle from besieging armies. There were also machicolations often added to a castles walls that created easier and more effective ways to throw stones and boiling liquids on besieging armies.

A Trebuchet Catapult Siege Attack on a Castle

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Medieval Castle Parts *Turrets

Another important component of a medieval castle was the turret.

Small Castle Turret - Medieval Castle Parts

A turret was a small tower that was constructed at the edge of a medieval castle wall. Its main purpose, like most other components of medieval castle parts, was defence.

Castle-Square-Turret

Turrets were usually square-shaped but during the late medieval times, circular-shaped turrets became more popular because they provided a better line of sight for the archers defending the castle.

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Medieval Castle Parts *Towers

In the defence of a medieval castle, towers played a central role. The main difference between a medieval castle tower and a medieval castle turret was that the turret was constructed on the wall at the top, whilst the castle towers were built from the ground up and part of the main structure.

Towers were mainly built of stone and included battlements and arrow loops for defence.

Rihemberk Medieval Castle tower - Medieval Castle Parts

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Medieval Castle Parts *Watchtowers *Look Outs

Both medieval castle turrets and towers also served the purpose of a lookout watching for the invading armies. A constant watch was maintained on the towers and turrets to keep an eye on any approaching armies or anyone else. It was common to build at least one turret at the highest wall which served as the primary lookout point.

Read More about Medieval Castle Parts – Watchtowers – Look Outs


Medieval Castle Parts *Drawbridge

The drawbridge was an important medieval castle part which was a movable bridge at the entrance of a castle above the moat. Since the medieval castles were defended by the moats, it was common to quickly raise the drawbridge in the event of an attack.

Medieval Castle Parts Drawbridge

A Drawbridge could be raised by a system of ropes, pulleys and or chains. Sometimes simple manpower was used to raise them.

Later drawbridges used a counterweight system.

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Medieval Castle Parts *Barbican

A medieval castle barbican was a kind of fortified outpost that acted as the outer defence point for the castle often ahead of the castle main gatehouse.

barbican-castle-parts

Medieval castle barbicans began to be constructed after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and continued to be very important until the 15th century, after which they gradually lost their importance due to considerable improvements in castle siege tactics.

Medieval Castle Barbican Lewes - Medieval Castle Parts

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Medieval Castle Parts – Battlements

The medieval castle battlements were of central importance in the defence of a castle.

Castle Battlement Entrance

Castle Battlements

Battlements were commonly built around castle walls and on top of important towers. The tooth effect of battlements were specially designed so that soldiers could fire bolts, arrows and throw stones or pour burning hot liquids at besieging armies.

Castle Battlement Crenels - Medieval Castle Parts

The Castle Battlement Parapet (Small Wall) and Gaps (Crenels) Solid Sections Merlons

Castle-Battlement-castle-parts

castle-battlement-close-up

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Medieval Castle Parts *Murder Holes

Medieval Castles entrances were often protected by gatehouses, holes were built into the floors of higher level chambers above the gatehouses. Enemy soldiers were often tricked and trapped within the gatehouses spaces and corridors. These holes were called murder holes as the enemy below stood little chance of survival as boiling liquids and stones were poured and dropped on them from the defending soldiers above.

Bodiam Castle Ceiling Murder Holes

Medieval Cities and Towns often had gatehouses protecting them with murder holes incorporated in this way.

Murder Holes Medieval Town

Murder Holes at top of arch in the gateway to a medieval town or city

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Medieval Castle Parts *Round Towers

Building round towers instead of square towers became popular during the high and late medieval periods. The obvious advantage of a round tower over the square tower was that it provided a clear line of sight for the archers, thus making the defence of the castle easier.

Medieval Castle Tower Windsor Tower - Medieval Castle Parts

Another feature of primary importance was that, unlike the square-shaped towers, round towers were relatively immune to tunneling under the tower due to the absence of any corners required for tunneling.

Image of the Windsor Castle Norman Gate house

Windsor Castle Round Towers


Medieval Castle Parts *Arrow Slits *Loops

Arrowslits or Loops were an inevitable part of medieval castle battlements and thus its defence. A medieval castle arrow-loop was a narrow opening in the medieval castle walls and towers and was used to launch arrows at the invading enemy.

Castle-Arrowslit-Loop

Windsor Castle Arrow Slit - Castle Parts

An embrasure is built into this castle-slit, this helped crossbowmen angle their crossbows for more deadly shots from their bows.

Arrow-loops were found in various forms although the most popular form was that of a cross.

Read More about Medieval Castle Parts – Arrow Loops


Medieval Castle Parts *Machicolations

Another important feature of a medieval castle parts list is called a machicolation. Medieval castle machicolations were projecting platforms at the top of castle walls and usually protruded from the walls.

Castle machicolations Medieval Castle Parts

Castle Machicolations can be seen at the top of this castle wall, there are machicolations around the tower as well

The openings that jutted out from the castles walls could be used to drop stones, boiling oil or water, excrement, and various other materials on the enemy. The machicolation could either run along the entire length of the wall or could be positioned around a tower or smaller part of the wall in a vulnerable area.

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Medieval Castle Parts *Gatehouse

No medieval castle parts list is incomplete without the medieval castle gatehouse. The medieval castle gatehouse was built at the entrance of a castle and acted as a minor fortification. It enclosed the gateway for the castle and usually also consisted of chambers for important guests.

Bodiam Castle Gatehouse - Castle Parts

Gatehouse *Bodiam Castle

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Medieval Castle Parts Summary

These were some of the most important medieval castle parts that played a central role in the defence of the castle. Since wars and invasions were very common during the medieval period, special attention was paid to constructing multifaceted medieval castle parts for effective defence.


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