Facts about Castles

Some interesting information regarding early designs of castles and who was behind them.

Who built the first castles?
Castles may have been built by the early Egyptians as fortresses for troops on the borders of their lands. The Romans built stone forts all over their empire, In Europe, the first stone fort or castles, were built in the 800 AD, but it was the Normans who introduced them on a large scale.

Who was Master James of St George?
He was one of the leading castle builders of 13th century Europe. He began working on castles in Italy and France. Edwards I of England employed him in Wales to supervise the building of the first big castle there. He also worked in Scotland.

Why has Rochester Castle a rounded corner to a square tower?
Because in 1215, engineers of King John successfully brought down one square corner of the tower by digging a tunnel underneath it and making it collapse (this is called mining). When it was repaired, it was replaced by a rounded corner which is much more difficult to mine.

Who built Chateau Gaillard in France?
It was Richard the Lion Heart, King of England, and he built it at the end of the 12th Century. It overlooks the Seine River and it was one of the first concentric castles in western Europe. It was thought to be impregnable.

Who brought about the Chateau Gaillard’s fall?
It was the Troops of Philip Augustus, King of France, who were attempting to take it from forces of King John of England in 1204. They dug a tunnel and got inside under the outer walls. Then they got into the sewers of the middle part and through these to the innermost building and there forced the defenders to surrender.

Where are Z-shaped castles usually found?
Z-shaped castles usually found in Scotland. They were fortified houses, whose plan was roughly Z-shaped, that is two round towers were connected by a square building. A good example is Claypotts, near Dundee, which still stands in good condition.