The English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog, in which I am proud to participate, has released its first anthology of history articles, Castles, Customs and Kings.
To celebrate, we are hosting this blog hop and giving away lots of great stuff. I will give away two books (readers choice of any of my books), one e-book and one paperback (continental US only) to two random commenters on this post. Please include your location in your comment.
You can find Castles, Customs and Kings at Amazon
Don’t forget to visit the other hops sites listed at the bottom of this post.
Though there is a lot of debate, castles are generally considered to be the private fortified resident of a lord or noble. (Palaces are not fortified) Castles did not serve as a public defense. They originated in Europe in the 9th and 10th century. Castles served not only as military structures, but as centers of administration and symbols of the nobility’s power.
Since their first function was defense, castles often exploited natural defenses like hilltops and cliff faces. As building techniques improved, stone replace earth and timber as the material of choice.
Although there are many styles of castles, they share a number of common features.
Earthen mound with a flat top, possibly man made, but may also be naturally occurring. The motte could be constructed out of dirt dug up in the formation of the moat, it might also be created by covering up an older castle or hall whose rooms because underground chambers in the new keep.
The most strongly defended point of the castle, often in the form of a great tower on top of the motte. The keep was typically used as the residence of the noble castle owner.
A fortified enclosure outside of the main keep. The knights guarding the lord’s household, the garrison, stables and workshops were often located in one or more bailey structures.
Found in concentric castles which had several rings of fortifications surrounding the keep. When there were several lines of fortifications, the enceinte was the innermost continuous line of fortifications.
Thick defensive walls surrounding a keep and bailey(s). These walls were typically over 10 feet thick, wide enough for defenders to walk on and fire arrows on attackers.
Architectural elements of the curtain wall designed to assist defenders of the castle. These included gaps and solid blocks on top of the wall for defenders to shoot through/ hide behind (crenellation); wooden(hoarding) or stone(machicolations) projections to allow defenders to drop objects on attackers near the base of the wall while remaining protected.
After the 13th century small openings in the curtain wall were added to allow defenders to fire arrows or crossbow bolts though the curtain walls
Fortifications to the entrance to the castle. These might include portcullises, wooden and metal grills to block the entrance, towers with arrow slits, and a rampart and ditch to limit the approach to the gate.
A steep-sided ditch surrounding a castle. In low lying areas, moats were filled with water and might be crossed with the aid of a drawbridge.