How have castles evolved over time? Did castles across the world during medieval times look the same and were they used for similar ideas? Castles have a surprisingly long history and some of the earliest castles date back to around 6500 B.C.E. Of course, the castles built in the 500-1500 C.E look much different and have many more technological advances since ideas have come and gone since the early castle times. Castles were adapted all over Europe and can be found from England to Latvia. Ireland, Scotland, France, and the Netherlands have castles inside their countries borders also. It was a commonly found structure in the medieval era. We will delve into castles had and their features such as defense mechanisms, designs, sizes, shapes, purposes, and much more as the paper progresses.
Some may question what a castle exactly is, and Merriam-Webster describes a castle as 1a. “A large fortified building or set of buildings” 1b. “A massive or imposing house” 2. “A retreat safe against intrusion or invasion”. (11)
Surely by the definitions above pictures may pop to mind. New castles can be found today, but the type of castle that will be put under the spotlight here will be the medieval castles of the post-classical era. Castles were important to a community during the medieval times because they were very useful staging points for conquests. Although, castles were mostly used for fighting purposes, which is not the only use they had. Not all, but a lot of castles were used as a shelter for towns is times of conflict, which kept residents safe. Castles were a large utility that proved most advantageous over time. (4)
Though most castles that people see today are from the post classical era, circa 500-1450, the history of castles coming to Europe has been somewhat lost in the mist, the castles of today have been traced back to three types of strongholds, the Grod, the Bergfried, and the Motte-and-Bailey, in that respective order. Walled cities date back to one of the original civilizations, Babylon. The walled city of Babylon was constructed out of dirt and wood. This is the first type and earliest kind of castle, called the Grod, was a ringed fort. The fort was enclosed by ramparts, also known as earthen walls. Also a strong gate or multiple gates allowed people to enter and exit across the moat that surrounded Grod. (8) The next type of castle that came along, the Bergfried, were made of wood, like the early Babylonian walled city, also they resembled the tall, circular towers that the romans utilized along their frontiers. The Bergfrieds can be found all over Germany. The Bergfrieds are what the tall towers of the medieval castles are modeled after. The Last type of castle that the medieval castle was modeled after is called the Motte-and-Bailey. Motte-and-Bailey castles were made up of a Motte, which is a dirt mound that was enclosed by a fortified gate and wall made of wood. The Bailey of the Motte-and-Bailey was the open courtyard that...