This article is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.
10 Interesting Facts About Castles
|England's Warwick Castle in the mist.|
1. Castle Etymology
While some disagreement exists as to the origin of the word ‘castle,’ most scholars believe it derived from the Latin word for ‘fortress.’ Since a castle primarily functioned to protect its inhabitants and the surrounding community, this makes perfect sense.
|Bojnice Castle - Slovakia |
Image by Pudelek (Marcin Szala) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Circular StairsThe clockwise curve of a castle tower’s stairway forced intruders to climb with their right hands to the wall, while defenders coming down to meet them had their right hands free. Designers built many ingenious defensive architectural features like this one into castles.
|Interior of well house at Carisbrooke Castle |
Image by Dave Pape (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Castle Well
The source feeding water into the well represented a potential vulnerability for a castle. If left unprotected, a poisoned well could end a siege in defeat for the defenders. Since a water source might exist outside the walls of the castle, this could become a big problem.
|Cardiff Castle Water Spout |
Image by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Cardiff Castle water spout
Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
4. Running WaterContrary to modern belief, castles carried running water through pipes from cisterns on higher floors. The inhabitants of a castle bathed in wooden tubs that could be covered with canvas in cold weather.
|Garderobe, Peveril Castle |
Image by Dave.Dunford [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
5. GarderobeThis early version of a toilet consisted of a wooden board cut with a hole and situated in a small chamber. Human waste traveled through chutes into the moat. The fact that moths wouldn’t go into this chamber due to the sewer gases gave this closet-like room its name. The garderobe became a place to hang clothing to keep out bugs.
|The Moat of Leeds Castle near Maidstone, England, photographed July 2005|
by Tobiasvonderhaar (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
6. MoatA deep, wide ditch filled with water diverted from a river or other body of water protected a castle in a variety of ways. A moat forced potential invaders to swim, making them easy targets. It also prevented miners from digging beneath the castle walls to gain entry, and its presence safeguarded against fires.
|Chateau de Vincennes|
Image by CJ DUB - Own work, Attribution, License Information
7. KeepA castle keep acted as a fortified residence for the noble family and other inhabitants of the castle. This great tower at the heart of the castle might soar as high as 80 feet (24 metres) into the air.
|Austria's Burg Hochosterwitz in Kärnten.|
Image by Johann Jaritz - Own work
8. Number of Castles in EuropeAccording to the Castellarium Anglicanum, Europe contains over 150,000 castle sites. While 800 or so of these contain castle ruins, just 300 castles remain at least partially intact and standing.
|Windsor Castle, UK|
Image by Sgt. Adrian Harlen, Ministry of Defense official photographer [OGL], via Wikimedia Commons
9. Oldest Occupied CastleAlive and thriving at age 900 and counting, Windsor Castle holds its own as the oldest occupied castle in Europe. It started as a wooden motte-and-bailey castle built by William the Conquerer. Henry I upgraded the original castle to a stone structure and made other improvements. Windsor Castle has sheltered the families of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years.
|Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Bavaria, built by King Ludwig II.|
Image by Cezary Piwowarski - Own work, GFDL
10. Sleeping Beauty CastleDisney modeled the sleeping beauty castle after Neuschwanstein, a 19th-century castle built by Bavaria’s Ludwig II. This shy monarch built his castle as a private retreat. Today, more than 1.4 million people a year visit the “fairytale castle” he created.
About Janalyn Voigt
Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers. This multi-faceted storyteller writes in the historical fiction, romantic mystery, and epic fantasy genres. Janalyn is a history enthusiast and romantic. These elements appear in everything she writes.
Available Books by Janalyn VoigtBeginning with DawnSinger, the epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams.
Upcoming Books by Janalyn VoigtHills of Nevermore, the first installment in Montana Gold, a historical romance series set during Montana's gold rush, releases in 2017.
Deceptive Tide (Islands of Intrigue: San Juans) a romantic suspense novel set in an island paradise off the coast of Washington state.