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Transcript of Medieval castles
The castle gatehouse was the group of towers, bridges, and barriers used to protect the entrance to a castle.
created with the
purpose of protecting.
Castles were not built for comfort; they were designed to resist direct attacks.
In times of war, the castle served as the base and helped the king or nobleman defend his lands.
The castle had several functions: home, barracks, storehouse, prison, treasury, and administrative center.
The first types of castles were called: Motte and Bailey Castles
At first, simple wooden homes sat atop a hill or an artificial mound called a motte.
The bailey was the courtyard within the walls of the castle.
Ideally, the structures were built on sites with great views of the countryside.
Motte and Bailey castle
Motte and bailey castles were
built after William the Conqueror and the Normans conquered England.
They were easy to build quickly to protect
themselves from the angry Saxons.
List advantages and disadvantages of this type of castle.
Wooden buildings were
replaced by stone
Quick to build
Resources easily available
Provided living quarters for people & animals
Easily defendable – motte, palisade, ditch, drawbridge Only needed a few soldiers to defend.
Portable – flat pack castles
Wooden – easily burned down,
Rot in wet weather
Bailey difficult to defend
Easy to cut off food supply.
Parts of a Castle
How many parts of a
castle can you name?
Water, or a wide ditch, very often surrounded the castles.
Some castle moats were up to 30 feet deep and usually measured at least 12 feet in width. Moats could be filled with wooden stakes or water.
A narrow vertical slit cut into a wall through which arrows could be fired from inside.
A wooden bridge that led to a gateway and was capable of being raised or lowered.Ropes or chains were attached to the end of the bridge and then rigged to a pulley so that guards were able to quickly raise it.
Towers and Turrets
A castle turret was a small tower rising above and resting on one of the main towers, usually used as a look out point.
The curtain or the wall surrounding the
castle was strong enough to survive attacks.
The wall was
between 8 and 20 feet thick.
(That's as wide as the height of a
A narrow wall built along the outer edge of the wall walk to protect soldiers against attack.
Gatehouse with portcullis
The keep provided protection as well. It was also used for daily life activities, storing armour and to guard the main well. Basically it is a castle within a castle as it was used as a final defensive structure. The Keep was also the living quarters for the family.
The living quarters would traditionally be at the top, above the hall and the storage rooms at the bottom
Inside the keep
The portcullis was lowered quickly in times of attack. Ropes could be cut quickly and the portcullis would come crashing down, blocking the entrance to the castle. The spikes would injure or kill the intruder.
In Medieval times, they wouldn't have used the term 'the Keep'. The tower was called the "don-jon," meaning "strong-hold" in French.
What were the advantages and disadvantages of these castles? With your partner, make a list.
Inside the castle
Inside the castle, there were more defenses in case an army broke through or got over the walls.
Narrow, winding stone staircases spiraled upward in a clockwise direction. This gave the knight an advantage when coming down the steps because he could more easily swing his sword.
Invading soldiers coming upstairs would have their sword arms jammed against the wall.
The stairs were also built unevenly with some steps being extra high (“trip steps”), so that invaders would fall while coming up and could be captured.
How could you transform this castle into a safer, stronger castle?
Safe base to rule local region
Special features – portcullis, murder holes, arrow slits, and battlements
Difficult to attack – thick walls, hoardings, drawbridge & moat, round towers
Expensive to produce
Time-consuming to build
Which part of the castle do you think is important? Why?
Concentric castles have an inner wall built of thick stone with turrets positioned at intervals and surrounded by an equally thick but lower stone wall.
Palisades were high wooden fences built to protect their homes.
What was life like in the castle? Which was the most important room? Discuss with your partner
Doors were often reinforced with Iron bands and studs - making it difficult to break through with an ax
The Normans developed a quick way of building castles.
After digging a ditch, they built a mound in the middle, which they called "Motte" which is French for mound.
On top of the mound, they built a tower with a high fence around it. This was the strongest part of the castle.
Below the motte, there was another area surrounded by a fence. This was called the "bailey."
The keep was much taller than the rest
of the castle.