Castle Facts

Castle Facts

A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by nobility. See the fact file below for more information and facts about castles.

  • Castles were first built in Britain by the Normans from France during the Norman Conquest. They appeared sometime after 1066 during the period in history known as the Middle Ages. Castles were built for about a 500 year period of time. They played a big role in the social system called feudalism.
  • The word castle comes from a Latin word meaning “fortress”. From prehistoric times, people have come up with ways to protect the place where they lived. The first castles were made from wood, but eventually they were built from stone.
  • It is believed that as many as 1000 Motte and Bailey Castles were built in England by the Normans. These early castles were made of wood. The word “motte” means “cod of earth” and the word “bailey” means “enclosure”.
  • The moat was a ring of water surrounding a castle. If someone wanted to get over the moat, the drawbridge would have to be cranked down from inside the castle. A bailey is the enclosed area inside the castle. Baileys helped protect a castle.
  • The most important part of the Motte and Bailey castle was the Keep. It was built on a huge mound and could be as tall as 80 feet (24 metres). A ditch was dug around the motte and filled with water. The sides of the motte were usually so steep they were impossible to climb.
  • The walls of the stone castles could be as thick as 33 feet. Once the cannon was created, no castles could stand that kind of attack. The cannon balls could easily destroy the stone walls no matter how thick they were.
  • At the bottom of the motte was the bailey. The bailey varied in size from one to three acres. Inside the bailey, lived the followers of the Lord who ran the castle. There were many buildings inside the bailey including houses, kitchens, storehouses, blacksmith, stables, bakeries, and quarters for soldiers. A strong wooden fence, called a palisade, surrounded the buildings.
  • Castles were dark and cold, but they offered protection from enemies. Castles were very expensive to build and run. It could cost thousands of dollars to build just part of a castle. The workers might have had to destroy whole forests to build part of a castle, and then to heat it after it was built.
  • Castles were in lots of different countries. There were castles in Spain, Germany, Britain, Japan, and many more countries. They all had different styles.
  • Windsor castle is one of the many homes of Queen Elizabeth of England. It was originally built as a Motte and Bailey castle.

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