Concentric Castles: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about concentric castles.

  • Concentric castles are those which have two or more surrounding walls, with the inner one usually higher than the outer one. They were sometimes circular, but also square or other shapes.

  • These castles were the next big castle design after stone keep castles, and are mostly associated with King Edward I. Some of the most famous in Britain are Beaumaris Castle, Harlech Castle, Conway Castle and Caernarvon Castle.
  • This type of castle was easier  to defend. If attackers got past the outer wall and into the courtyard, they would still have another high wall and towers to face.
  • Concentric castles had other defensive features too, including circular towers which were difficult to undermine. They had battlements, moats, a drawbridge, a strongly defended entrance and arrow slits.
  • One of the earliest concentric castles was the Crusaders’ Castle at Belvoir in Israel, dating from 1168. The outer wall is 110 metres square, surrounded by a moat 12 metres deep.
  • The Crac des Chevaliers is another well preserved Crusader castle, in Syria. At one time 2,000 people lived in the castle, known for its beautiful Medieval paintings.
  • Caerphilly Castle in South Wales was one of the earliest concentric castles in Britain, built in 1268. It was a masterpiece of design and is the 2nd largest castle in Britain after Windsor Castle.
  • Caernarvon Castle was built in the late 13th century to reinforce English rule over Wales. It is known for its 12 huge towers with 5, 6 and 10 sides.
  • Although concentric castles were strong and easy to defend, they were also expensive to build. Some were started but never finished, such as Beaumaris Castle in North Wales.
  • James of St. George was one of the best castle builders of the time. He travelled to the Middle East and introduced features he saw there, including different coloured stone bands and octagonal towers.

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

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