Medieval Castles or Keeps

By Lucy Wardner

Castles or keeps have been around for hundreds of years, taking years to make. In the time that each castle takes to make it starts to take on the traits of its people. Each castle is unique to its surroundings and creators, this paper should teach you something you didn't know about castles. In this essay, we will ask questions like why did people start making castles? Or what are castles? This paper talks about castles their defenses, architecture, and their people and how their people were affected by the castles near them.

Defense was one of the most important parts of a castle, because if a castle doesn’t have any defense then it can not defend itself if anyone decided to attack it. Defense is usually the first thing people think of when they think about castles. One of the most used methods of attacking a castle was flaming arrows, the arrows would be shot over the wall and would catch flame to everything they touched, spreading chaos, as well as fire to the castle and burning it out the from the inside. Since the only known way to stop fire back then was water. People used all their water on fire and would die of dehydration. Without water they would die and so there would be no choice but to give up or die anyway so most gave up or started drinking stuff that would eventually make them sick. A way to defend a castle was to boil some water or ( if accessible oil) and dump it on enemies from above (Philip Dixon 2007).

One of the most famous-stone castles was the white tower of the Tower of London. This stone tower was begun in 1070 and marked the start of a stone tower building spree. By the time William the Conqueror died in 1087, eighty-six of these had been built in the U.K. (“”). The poem below is about the Tower of London from the book Old Stone Poems. 

Tower of London

Down the road from London bridge and
Pudding lane and puddle dock there lies
A place of infamy and dungeon chain and
Chopping block. Here jealous kings and
Wicked queens descended stairwells
Seething of with her head! Simple as
That. Beheadings as breathing.The grim
And gloomy tower saw king Henry 8th
Decide to end the life of his young wife
Sad maidens at her side . down the
road from London bridge from
And puddle dock and pudding
Lane lovely Ann Boleyn
Weeps tears as chilling
As winter rain.

(J. Patrick Lewis & Rebecca Kai Dotlich

In the north coast of Kent, there lies a city called Rochester. This city like most modern cities has many tall buildings, but probably the most famous of all is Rochester castle. This castle was not built in modern times. Unlike most of its neighbors, Rochester was built around eight-nine centuries ago. One of the many things that lies near the castle is the Roman cathedral which is huge but is also dwarfed by Rochester castle. Rochester is an extremely tall and impressive castle around 125 ft tall. It is the tallest building in the country. Rochester doesn't have a good reputation it was given its bad reputation by Henry 8th, Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. Rochester was at first made of mud and timber, a stone wall would be added every now and then, and eventually, the whole castle was made of stone. Stone castles were stronger, nicer to live in, easier to take care of, more expensive to make, and more impressive when finished. Stone castles themselves started to develop and change quite quickly after they had been built, mostly because every royal family wanted to be higher ranking than the others. They tried to show their importance and hierarchy in their castles and the landscapes around them (Morris, 2017).

William the Conqueror had his engineers build him a castle that had all its rooms stacked on top of each other, this castle was thickly blanketed in stone to keep it together. It measured 107 by 118 feet at its base and ninety ft high. It was an extremely large castle. All medieval castles are beautiful in their own way. Many medieval castles were not made for comfort but for beauty or intimidation. Back then intimidation was one of the best ways to keep an ally next to marriage. The beauty (or architecture) of a castle mattered a lot because if the castle wasn’t enjoyed by its people then there could be a revolt, because the people of the city would be paying their taxes into making a castle that they didn’t like and then less money would go to building stuff for them. The kings and queens literally needed their people because the townspeople made up most of their soldiers and if they didn’t have very many soldiers then they might lose their kingdom if they got attacked (“”). This made beauty very important back then. It was also helpful if you wanted to make your neighbors jealous!

This essay was about castles. Castles have been around for hundreds of years and the making of castles ended because they were too hard and expensive to make over and over again. Castles started to collapse more often because of guns and cannons. Each castle took the traits and changes of its people, making each unique. I hope this essay has taught you something you didn't know about castles. 


Work Cited


Morris, Marc. (2017).  Castles Their History and Evolution In Medieval Britain. New York N.Y. Pegasus Books.

Dixon, Philip.(2007).   Knights and Castles. Australia: Sheena Coupe.

Lewis, J. Patrick. (2006). Castles Old Stone Poems. Pennsylvania: Wordsong

This essay is a finished work from our 4-week Essay Series.


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