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Medieval Castles Illustration

Middle Ages for Kids
Medieval Castles

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Castles: A Nobles power depended on his ability to defend his land. Walls were good, Castles were better. The first castles were made of mud and wood. But wood burns so around 1100 CE people switched to building castles out of stone. Thick stone walls surrounded the manor house. Some walls were 20 feet thick. Most peasants did not live in the castle, but when trouble came they would hurry inside the castle and close the gates. Castles had openings high in the walls so that archers could shoot at invaders.

Location: Most castles were designed to defend a location. So they were usually located on top of a hill or at the ford of a river, or entrance to a bay or harbor. But the preferred location was at the highest point around, so if there was a hill the castle went on top. This meant you could see trouble a long way off. You could also throw things down at any attacker. Some castles were surrounded by a moat which was a deep ditch filled with water. A small bridge was built to lower and raise as needed over the moat. This was the drawbridge.

Interior: The interior of a castle contained staircases, bedrooms, hallways, priveys (rather like an outhouse built inside the castle), women's rooms (small areas used for chatting and embroidery), possibly a laundry, other household rooms, and

  • The Keep, a storage space for food in case of siege, also the last line of defense in the Castle
  • Barracks which were the homes of the Knights and soldiers of the Noble
  • The Great Hall, a place to feast and meet the noble during formal occasions
  • The Chapel, a place to hold religious services
  • Gatehouses which were secure places that guarded the gates

Comfort: Castles were great for protection, but not so great for comfort. Castles were drafty places, and gloomy, and usually damp. The fireplaces typically smoked up the rooms. The only light really was from flickering torches. And the floors were either bare stone or covered with animal furs. What furniture they had was also typically damp. Still, in those days, it was better to be gloomy than defenseless!

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