Castle Defend - How to defend your castle

Castle Defend Techniques (better known as Castle Defense) are an interesting study.

Imagine for a moment that you are a Lord of a magnificent medieval castle.

How will you defend your castle?

Historically, medieval castles relied on many castle defend techniques, and in this article you will discover that the actual architectural design of the castle played a major role in its defense.

From the ground up, medieval castles were designed and built in such a way to provide many features that protected the people inside.

First, the castle's walls were thick. This made the walls difficult to knock down (or in).

Some castles are known as concentric castles. Concentric castles were surrounded by several walls. These extra walls provided better protection against attackers.

So, the castle walls are the first way to defend your castle (castle defend technique #1).

Many medieval castles were crenellated at the top. Crenallated means they had parts that stuck up like teeth.

In times of battle, archers (an important class of the castle defenders) hid behind the higher parts (merlons) and shot arrows through the openings (crenels).

Illustration of a medieval archer shooting an arrow

Archers also fired arrows through arrowloops. Arrowloops were narrow slits or cross-shaped openings in the wall.

Crenels, merlons, arrowloops, and archers combine to provide the second way to defend your castle (castle defend technique #2).

Some castles had parts of walls that stuck out further than the rest. These extruding parts of the walls are called machicolations.

In battle, castle soldiers dropped boiling water or rocks on their attackers through holes in the machicolation's floor. Interestingly, these holes were actually called murder holes!

Murder holes are the third way to defend your castle (castle defend technique #3).

Another architectural defense used in some castles was called the talus. A talus was a lower section of a castle's walls that had an outward slope. The idea was that rocks would bounce off a talus back toward the enemy.

The talus is another way to defend your castle (castle defend technique #4).

The castle's main entrance was often placed on the other side of a gatehouse. In front of the gate attackers would find a heavy iron gate, called a portcullis. Defenders lowered the portcullis with chains and pulleys when they were under attack.

The gatehouse and portcullis provide yet another way to defend your castle (castle defend technique #5).

On the sides of the gatehouse towers would often be built. The stairways in these towers always curved to the right so that knights coming down the stairs had room to swing their swords. Now that is a fine example of "planning ahead"! ;)

Many of the major castles were surrounded by a moat. A moat was a deep ditch that was often filled with water. A drawbridge led across the moat to the gatehouse. In times of war, the castle defenders pulled up the drawbridge to close off this entrance to the castle.

The towers and moat offer more ways to defend your castle (castle defend techniques #6, and 7).

Sometimes, these castles contained secret passages. In times of siege these secret passages could be used to hide provisions as well as people. In a few rare cases the passages provided a means of escaping from the castle undetected! Even this can be considered as another castle defend technique.

A&E provides a fascinating home video on these secret passages. If you are interested in learning more I recommend watching it some weekend.

As you can see, great thought went into the architectural design to defend these castles and as a result the design itself provided many interesting castle defend techniques.


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