Stone Keep Castle Facts

Here are some facts about stone keep castles.

  • Stone keep castles were built all over Medieval England, many by William the Conqueror. They replaced the many wooden castles that had been built, and were designed for strength and security.

  • They were first built in France during the 10th and 11th centuries, and the idea was brought to England. Stone from France was often used in the construction of the stone keeps.
  • Most stone keep castles had kitchens on the ground floor and living quarters on the top floors. At first they were rectangular and then later designs were circular.
  • The stone keep, or tower, was the heart of the castle. As well as being built for defence, it meant that rooms could be larger and more luxurious, often with fireplaces.
  • Stone keep castles offered much better defence than the wooden castles which were built before them. They had thick and strong walls, a drawbridge and were defended by a moat or ditch.
  • These stone castles were expensive to build, and their construction often took several years.
  • Many of the most well known castles in England are stone keep castles. Over 80 were built, including Windsor Castle, Lincoln Castle, Nottingham Castle and Warwick Castle.
  • The White Tower at the Tower of London is one of the most famous stone keeps. The tower is 27 metres high and over the centuries has been used as a prison, armoury, treasury and Royal Mint.
  • Another well preserved example of a stone keep is Dover Castle. It was built in the 12th century and has underground tunnels dating from the Napoleonic wars.
  • Dover Castle was also one of the most expensive stone castles to be built. King Henry II spent about 30 percent of his income on simply renovating and looking after it.

What next? Discover more castle facts by visiting our castles resources page.

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