Medieval Castles Part 2

Last week we talked about motte and bailey castles, the first kind of castle in medieval times. However, like all technologies, castles changed over time. A more familiar kind of castle to you would probably be a concentric castle.


A concentric castle is most easily described as “a castle within a castle”, as they were built with a relatively thin outer wall, and then a thick inner wall consisting of the actual castle. The first one was built under King Edward I (an ancestor of Richard II, our king this year) in 1278, and he employed the best architect of the times, Master James of St. George, to build it.


Of course, in order to get through the walls, one must first be able to get to them. However, the enemy would first have to get past the moat, which surrounded the entire castle. The concentric castle featured other strong defenses as well, including the drawbridge, the portcullis (a latticed, iron or wood door that could be raised or lowered to provide entry into the castle), gatehouses, and even traps.


The inside of the castle was rather sophisticated. The use of chisels instead of axes to build castles led to more intricate designs in the castle, and there was even evidence of plumbing and piped water in concentric castles. Concentric castles were also the first castles to have glass in their windows, which were often painted. Fireplaces and chimneys were also introduced into castles, those who funded the building of these castles even employed artists to decorate the walls.


As you can see, concentric castles are much different than their motte and bailey predecessors. If you want to compare and contrast the two kinds of castles and you missed our blog post discussing motte and bailey castles, you can find it here.

Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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