Medieval Castle Floor Plans

Every Medieval castle was uniquely built depending on many factors. Over the centuries technologies and abilities changed and this affected how the castle was built and what materials were used. Other factors that affected the floor plan of a castle was the terrain it was built on, the surrounding landscape, the number of people it would support and the wealth of the Nobles or Royalty who were building it. But Even with all these variations there was one thing that all Castle Floor Plans had in common. They were all designed with life or death in mind. A castle was a place of maximum safety and this was the rule that they all followed.

A Castle Floor Plan was designed with the safety and security of its occupants in mind - It had to withstand sieges, battles, enormous and powerful siege engines, and attacks from land and often from sea. It had to protect its occupants through centuries of warfare

With this maximum security and safety in mind there are some rules that many castle builders followed in making their floor plans. And there were some very unique design ideas and tricks that they used. Let's review some of these unique things found in medieval castles and look at some floor plans.

Let's look at a long shot outside view of a castle floor plan

An Aerial view - This drawing shows the most important thing about designing a castle. When designing a castle you don't start with the rooms and then work your way out. You start as far out as terrain allows then slowly work your way in.

This is the concept of concentric circle defense - The goal was to create multiple lines of defense so an attacking army was always facing new challenges when sieging the castle. This drawing shows this concept.

 

 

The Concentric lines of defense in this drawing:

  1. If the castle was built on the top of a steep hill or mountain the slope itself was the first line of defense. An attacking army would have to fight uphill to take the castle. This was a serious disadvantage. This land around the castle was also cleared of all natural foliage and trees. This gave the attacking army no place to hide.
  2. The second Line of defense was the moat. The major function of the moat was not to drown the attackers. the moat was dug very deep and filled with water and this was to prevent the attackers from tunneling under the castle. It was possible for an attacking army to start a tunnel a safe distance from the castle then tunnel to somewhere under it. A moat made this very difficult. The water was a natural barrier to tunnels.
  3. The Outer wall - this was a strong, very thick and very tall stone structure that was built to withstand the attacks of siege engines. There were towers placed at strategic points (particulary at the corners) where the defenders could shoot arrows or throw projectiles at the enemy. They could even pour poisonous or boiling hot liquids on the enemy from the walls and towers.
  4. The Inner Wall - If the outer wall was breached the defending army could retreat to within the inner wall and maintain their defense.
  5. The Castle Keep was the center and heart of the defense. This was the last line of defense for the inhabitants of the castle. It was where the living quarters often were and it usually had the highest tower so they could look out over the whole landscape and castle.

You can see that the most important thing about a castle floor plan is the overall long picture of it as a design. It was designed from the outside in and in concentric circles of defense. A sieging army would have to overcome a series of difficult challenges if they were to take the castle.

Now Lets take a look at a more specific Castle floor plan and some of the very ingenious methods that were used in design to defend the people of the castle.

Let's start at the outer wall of the castle. This illustration shows the castle wall and a tower. The Stones at the top of the wall and at the top of the tower have notches cut into them. These are called crenelations and this is so the defenders of the castle could either fire arrows or hurl other projectiles at the attacking army while still remaining protected.. The height of the tower was important because they could look out on the surrounding lands and look along the length of the tower.

 

Another very interesting aspect of the castle outer wall was this type of floor plan. The illustration on the right is a cut away of the main gate and drawbridge over the moat. See how the main gate leads into a large closed in area? This area was called the inner passage. It is the area between the inner gate and the outer gate. . This area was a difficult trap for any attacking army. If the attackers broke through the main gate the defenders could lower both portcullises in the front and rear. Then the attackers would be trapped in this courtyard. Then the castle inhabitants could fire arrows and other projectiles through the windows and from the towers. These windows were often called Murder holes. This was a very effective and dangerous trap and often times attacking armies would not even bother with the main gate of the castle. They would attack other points along the outer wall to avoid this trap.

Now Let's take a closer look at a complete Castle Floor Plan

This is a thumbnail sketch of a castle floor plan. On the next page we look at an enlarged version of this plan and look at some of the more important points in this design. Large Castle Floor Plan

 

 

 

 

 

Harlech CastleI also have the floor plans of a real castle. Harlech Castle. You can see it here: Floor Plans of Harlech Castle.

 

 

 

Floor Plan of Restormel CastleThere are many different types of castles such as the Rectangular Keep, the Shell Keep and the Motte and Bailiey. I have the floor plan of a Shell Keep on this page here

 

 

 

 

I also have the floor plan for a magnificent Medieval Fortress located in Cairo Egypt. This is the citadel and you can see a larger version of this castle floor plan here.

 

 

 

Want to Make your own Medieval Castle out of Paper?

Make a castle out of paper and cardboard

Project: Here is a nice little project that you can make. It is a paper medieval castle and it comes with all the instructions and drawings so you can print it out and make it yourself. Easy and fun project with a fact sheet that tells all about the parts of a castle. All you need is some glue and some cereal boxes. Make a Medieval Paper Castle

 

 

 

Neuschwanstein Castle

I have a more challenging Paper Castle. It is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. If you are looking for a more dramatic castle this project is for you. The Neuschwanstein Paper Castle Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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