Stairways and sometimes secret passages led from the ground floor level of a castle to the lower level dungeons beneath.
A castle dungeon was a part of the medieval castle that was commonly used to hold religious and political prisoners. It was customary to build individual cells or rooms in a castle dungeon to increase the solitary nature of the confinement.
Castle dungeons were of course commonly constructed underneath castles, as such they were dark, damp, and very scary places to be confined.
Dungeons became popular additions to castles during the late medieval period, and they continued to be built during the Renaissance era. Many dungeons were built beneath the castles built during the Plantagenet period, mainly constructed between 1154 and 1485.
The main purpose of a dungeon was to imprison religious and political enemies, ingenious torture devices were invented to gain confessions in cases of heresy, witchcraft, political treachery, and betrayal, and were also used on prisoners held in dungeons for many other reasons.
Torture for religious reasons was very common during the period of the Spanish Inquisition.
The executioner would be given a warrant that authorised him to behead prisoners for very serious crimes such as treason. It was the executioner and his assistants that administered torture in the dungeons of the castle and he acted in an official capacity.
Another isolation type cell that was introduced to medieval castles was an extremely claustrophobic cell called an “oubliette” which came from France and was constructed underneath Warwick Castle. The Oubliette was an extremely small cell which made movement very difficult.
DUNGEONS EXPERIENCES IN THE UK