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Medieval Castles George Marshall

a. General Medieval castles were made of stone. They were built usually on a hill and tended to be shaped like the hill they were built on so they were not all the same shape. They were built on a hill for good defence: you can see attackers and they cant surprise you and it is easier to defend from a hill. Going round the castle was a generally a moat or a ditch to hinder attackers. The drawbridge crossed the moat and joined the castle to the barbican which was like a fortified gate house. If attacked, defenders would come into the castle, pull up the drawbridge and shut the strong gates. b. Who owned castles? Castles were owned by kings and lords who ruled over the land and people around the castle. These kings and lords lived in their castles even if they were not under attack. Inside the castle there would be lots of things to make life more comfortable. c. Inside the castle

A typical medieval castle

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There was a main building a hall where the daily life of the castle went on. The king would sit on a large throne and receive his guests and courtiers. Castle people would eat in the hall as well.

A medieval hall

Near the hall would be the kitchen where food was prepared. They would cook on fires.

A typical medieval kitchen

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Inside the castle there would be more than one storey and bedrooms or chambers would usually be on an upper floor. The king and queens bedroom would be luxurious: king size beds, carpets, ornaments, warm blankets and pillows.

The bedroom at Cardiff castle

If you needed to go to the toilet during the night you would use a bucket which was called a chamber pot. Or you would go to the garderobe which would be a hole in the ground which dropped down to the ground set inside a thick wall on the edge of the castle.

Medieval castle toilets were built into the walls and dropped straight to the ground...

Water would be provided by a well usually in the middle of the courtyard of the castle. This would be difficult for attackers to reach so a clean water supply could be maintained.

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There was also a keep a strong building where you would keep all the precious jewels and treasures which would be very difficult for attackers to gain access to.

The keep at Appleby Castle

There would also be a chapel. This was important because the king or lord would go to church every day to pray for the safety of himself and his people. In medieval times, science was not so developed and so people felt that God was responsible for life, creation and fortune. So the chapel was very important.

The chapel at Beaumaris Castle

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Examples of medieval castles There are a number of medieval castles still in Britain. Examples are: Chepstow, Bamburgh, Leeds Castle, Hever, Edinburgh, Windsor, Pembroke and the Tower of London.

Bamburgh Castle...built on a hill

Other facts Interestingly two history websites (English Heritage and BBC History magazine) use the map of a medieval castle keep as the basis for their logos.

The map of a medieval keep adapted for history logos!

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