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Castle Defences

Castles were normally the homes of royal families and barons. A king might have only visited a castle occasionally, before moving on to the next of their many homes. During their visits, the castle would become home to crowds of: workers, cooks and servants.


Wooden motte-and-bailey castles were gradually replaced with castles built from stone as it was a stronger building material and couldn’t catch fire as easily.


To help protect them from attack, these new castles had:
  • a deep moat surrounding them which had to be crossed using a drawbridge and couldn't be tunnelled under;
  • a high curtain wall around the edge which was hard to climb;
  • round towers with battlements on top for guards to keep watch from;
  • arrow slits cut into the walls to fire arrows out from;
  • a metal portcullis gate at the door which was hard to smash open;
  • a room above the gate which had ‘murder holes’ in the floor through which: hot sand, boiling water or stones could be dropped.
Portcullis Gate, The Mill, Leeds Castle - geograph.org.uk - 1613103

Castles would be permanently guarded by sentries, who would check people coming to the castle and would be armed with: bows, arrows and pikes (a kind of spear).

Castle Rushen Portcullis Chamber