Through out the ages (and still even today), people have built protection around them:
- Stone Age people lived in caves and made defences to keep out wild animals.
- The first towns and cities had walls to keep out invaders
- Kings and nobles fortified their large homes to protect themselves.
Can you think of places today that have high walls or fences to help keep people out?
The first castles were built by the Normans
The great age of castles began almost 1,000 years ago and lasted for nearly 500 years.
The Normans introduced the first proper castles, starting with the wooden Motte and Bailey castles, to England following their victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. They needed to protect their new kingdom, so as a result the early years of Norman occupation saw a frenzy of castle building.
The Norman timber Motte and Bailey castles were quickly replaced by permanent stone Norman castles.
Medieval castles are castles built from the time of the Norman Conquest, which began in 1066, to the start of the Tudor period in 1485.
A late 12th-century castle
What were the first castles buit like? | Casle Timeline
What are castles? | Why were castles built? | Where were castles built?
What is the biggest castle in England? | What is the biggest castle in the world?
The entrance to the castle was always its weakest point.
Drawbridges could be pulled up, preventing access across moats.
|Tall gate towers meant that defenders could shoot down in safety at attacks below.|
|The main gate or door to the castle was usually a thick, iron-studded wooden door, that was hard to break through.|
A spiked wooden or metal barrier, called portcullis, helped protect the doors from fire and battering. It was lowered by chains from a chamber above the gateway.
The word portcullis comes from the Old French porte-coleice, meaning sliding door.