​​Medieval Castles Design & Architecture: How Were Castles Constructed?

Most castles were initially built as fortifications, located on trade routes and along borders between countries. During the ancient Roman invasion of Europe, they had constructed fortifications in the same areas; these ruins were later frequently used as foundations for the new castles.

Early Medieval Castles Designs

In medieval times, noblemen and kings at first built wooden structures to house their families, other nobles, and household guards on top of the mound, later called a motte.

Norman Innovation: The Motte-and-Bailey

During the 1000s, the Normans were the first to change castles to the motte-and-bailey defense system. The bailey was a walled courtyard, creating a line of defense and protecting the keep.

These castles were primarily fortifications that resembled forts rather than what we think of as castles today. They formed a good defense system against invaders and were effective against the weapons of the time. The earliest motte-and-bailey constructions could be erected quickly too if an attack was imminent.

How Did They Build Castles in Medieval Times?

As building techniques advanced, castles were eventually built from blocks of hewn rock and bricks. Rapid advances in medieval technology, economy and the power of lords and monarchs allowed for the keeps of castles to be built by trained stonemasons under the supervision of a master mason.

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