Facts about Castle Buildings

Here are some interesting facts about castle outbuildings and castle structures.

What is a Belfry?
It is a tall wooden tower on wheels, used by attacking troops. Men stood on the platform at the top, generally covered by a sloping roof. They could fight at the same level as the men defending the top of the castle walls.

What is a crenellation?
If you see battlements round the top of a castle tower or along the top of a castle wall, the correct word for these is crenellation. In the Middle Ages in Endland alicence was needed to put crenellation on a castle tower or along the wall.

What is a concentric castle?
A castle which has two or more rings of walls, with or without towers along the circumference. The gates were at opposite sides to each other so that if an enemey broke in through the outer gate, he had quite a job getting round to the gates of te next ring and so on.

What is the Krak des Chevaliers?
The famous concentric castle built by the early Crusaders in Syria in the 12th century. It is a huge fortress with square, round and D-end towers along both rings of walls. Much of it still stands today.

What was a barbican?
This was a continuation of a castle gateway. It projected outwards and was meant to protect the gate by enclosing the approach to it. It had walls and sometmes a roof. Troops stood on guard along the tops of the walls and from this position had advantage over oncoming attackers.

What is a keep?
It is the word for the great stone tower of a castle. Usually the tower was the largest and stoutest building in a castle. The word keep was not used until the 16th Century.

What was a motte and bailey?
his was a mound of earth, up to 30 metres (98 feet) high on which was built a wooden fort. The mound, or motte, stood in a larger area called a bailey, surrounded by a wooden wall. The motte and bailey was a type of castle in use all over Europe before stone castles were first built, and for some time afterwards.

What is Machicolation?
In some castles you can see special holes along the tops of walls or at the top of great towers, through which defenders could drop missiles or liquids on to attackers. This was called machicolation, a stonework feature which came into use in the 14th century.

What is a loophole?
It is the slit or opening in a castle wall or tower through which an archer shot arrows. It afforded some protection against retaliation, but of course the range of view was extremely narrow.

What is a gun-loop?
An opening in a castle wall, or in a tower, through which to poke a gun barrel.

What were the main weapons used for besieging castles?
Mangonels (stone throwing machines, Trebuchets (machanical slings, Arbalests (huge crossbows), Battering Ram, Penthouses (mobile tunnels which were run up to castle walls for men to run along under cover and Scaling Ladders.

Who built Brochs in Scotland?
These were large cylindrical towers of stone built by the Celtic people in Scotland 2000 years ago, chiefly as defences against raids by Roman raiders who landed in Britain to seize slaves for the Italian slave markets. There is a particularly good broch standing in Mousa in Shetland.