Castles

Castles

There are a number of different types of Castle. This page outlines very briefly the basics behind the development of the Castle. Use the links to different parts of the Castles section to see more detailed descriptions.

When the Normans invaded England one of the first things they did was build a castle. This wasn’t a new idea, far from it Castles of a fashion had existed prior to the Roman invasion a thousand years previous, but the pace at which Castle building developed as a result of the conquest was breathtaking and the result was a series of apparently impregnable defensive structures spread around the country.

The earliest form of Castle, as built by the Normans in England, was the Motte and Bailey castle. This simple construction of earth and wood could be built in just a few weeks: although many of them were later transformed into stone keeps (Clifford’s tower at York being a good example of this).

From these humble origins the Castle quickly began to take new forms in England. The Stone keep, such as the White Tower (Tower of London) replaced the Motte and Bailey as the favoured structure. It’s high walls making scaling the battlements incredibly difficult. Soon though even this structure was deemed unsatisfactory as methods of laying siege to the Stone keep rendered it virtually worthless: with a few notable exceptions such as Conway Castle. A new, more advanced method of defending oneself was required. The answer came in the shape of the Concentric Castle.

The Concentric Castle takes a variety of shapes. Basically it was a method of making sure that the attacker could be seen by as many defenders as possible: with the defenders as well hidden as possible. Circular towers and maze like inner wards made attacking these constructions very dangerous, for once within the walls the attacking warrior would inevitably be faced with yet more walls, more towers and numerous death holes. Classic examples of the Concentric Castle are Caerphilly Castle and Beaumaris Castle, both built by the English in Wales. These castles still remained in use throughout the Civil War, and compare favourably with contemporary defensive structures.

Castles - Castles Homepage  
Motte and Bailey CastlesStone Keep CastlesConcentric Castles
The Normans in Yorkshire - Castles in ContextFortifications before the Norman Conquest