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Castles & knights

Inside a castle

Inside a castle gatehouseInside a castle gatehouseA late 13th-century castle had no separate keep. Instead, one of the towers was much grander than the others and contained the bedchambers for the lord and his family. Four turrets at the top of this tower served as good lookout positions for the castle garrison. Other principal rooms, including the Great Hall, solar and chapel, were housed in buildings constructed against the walls around the inner ward or bailey. It also had kitchens, an armoury and a treasure house, a forge, store rooms and stables. The castle was also well equipped to fight off attack and had a heavily fortified gatehouse containing quarters for soldiers

A cutaway illustration of a 13th-century castleA cutaway illustration of a 13th-century castleA plan of the castleA plan of the castle 


The castle’s towers were designed so that, should enemy forces get inside the castle, each could be sealed off and defended independently. The main tower had two entrances, both with heavy wooden doors: one at the base, opening into the inner ward, the other at the top, and reached only from the wallwalk. There were several rooms in the tower, built one above the other and connected by a spiral staircase in one corner. 

Castles did not have bathrooms. Even the wealthiest lord would bathe no more than twice a year. To mask unpleasant smells, the castle floors were strewn sweet-smelling herbs.

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