What is a Castle?
The meaning of the word castle has been used to describe a number of different types of buildings over the years. However, strictly speaking, it should only really be applied to a fortified home of a lord or nobleman. (Fortified means strengthened or designed for defence).
A castle is not the same as a palace as palaces aren’t fortified, and it’s not the same as a fortress because fortresses aren’t always homes.
The first castles were constructed in the 9th century. Many early castles were made from wood. Eventually, wood was replaced by stone, and castles continued to be made using this material until the 16th century.
Castle design changed and evolved over the centuries. As weapon technology and siege techniques developed, so castle designs adapted to counter the new threats. Castles became increasingly complex with elaborate defences in place to withstand whatever the attackers threw at them. Castles built in the late Middle Ages look very different to the motte-and-bailey castles constructed by The Normans.
Although castles varied greatly, they also had lot of features in common. Click here to learn more about some of these key castle features.
Why were castles built?
Castles were built for a two reasons. Firstly, they were constructed to defend those living within their walls, and, to a lesser extent, those living in the surrounding areas. Secondly, they were a symbol of power, strength and wealth. When the Normans invaded England in 1066, they built a series of motte and bailey castles. This wasn’t just a defensive measure – it was a way of exerting their dominance over the population.
What are some of the different types of castles?
As mentioned above, castle design changed over the years. Several different phases of castle design can be identified, ranging from simple motte and bailey castles to complicated concentric castles. Follow this link to learn more about some of different types of castles.
Here is a link to some more of our resources about castles.