The Secrets of Medieval Castles: Stairs are built in a clockwise fashion for a VERY good reason

Extreme religiosity, witch burnings, regular executions, many legends of valiant knights, brilliant folk heroes, fairytale-like villages, lovely cities, brutal battles, stories of many kings and queens’ rise and fall, massive fortifications dotting the landscapes, and, of course, gorgeous castles. Yes, we’re talking about the Middle Ages, a 1,000-year period filled with events, great individuals, and beautiful buildings. It’s time to pay greater attention to medieval architecture. Or, more accurately, to reveal the secrets of medieval castle architecture to you.

These majestic structures, mostly intended for defense, characterized a whole age and very definitely affected the path of history. To claim that medieval castles are extremely complicated buildings is certainly inadequate, which is why we must examine the specifics of these defensive fortifications.

The Moat

The moat, a vast, deep body of water that surrounds the castle, is without a doubt one of the most essential aspects employed in the defense of a medieval castle. The castle moat’s most significant role, aside from being a beautiful site to see and a superb impediment to slow down the progress of opposing troops, was to prevent any attackers from building tunnels.

Castles lacking moats were frequently assaulted from below. Invaders would build a tunnel beneath the walls, allowing them to finally breach the castle by forcing the wall to collapse. A moat was the ideal defensive measure against tunnel digging since it would most likely collapse and flood the tunnel with water before the invaders could breach the castle wall.

Concentric Circles

This amazing form of defense, developed during the 13th century, provided the finest security against hostile attacks. The castle’s circular many layers of defensive barriers made it far more secure than any previous defensive construction in history.

As we all know, the word concentric indicates that one circle is inside another, and in the case of the medieval castle, this meant that the assaulting force had to first defeat the outside wall or earthworks, but even if they did, the struggle was not finished. Their next challenge would be the castle moat, followed by the inner wall, which would lead them to their final challenge, the keep tower within the castle.

The Main Gate

The big gate was another outstanding defensive improvement to the medieval fortress. One may believe that the main gate was the most susceptible aspect of the medieval castle, but it was really one of the most closely defended areas, as well as one of the most hazardous, since it was frequently loaded with obstacles and lethal traps.

Built in 1385, Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, England, is surrounded by a water-filled moat. Author: – CC BY-SA 3.0

The assailants may quickly become imprisoned in a tiny courtyard between the inner and outer gates with the use of an iron portcullis. There was no way out-the unlucky invaders could easily be assaulted by archers stationed on top of the gatehouse, as well as having stones, boiling water, or burning oil thrown at them through the meurtrières (murder holes).

The Stairwells

If you’ve ever been to a medieval castle, you may have observed that the stairwells are arranged in the shape of a clockwise spiral. There’s a logical reason why medieval castle designers built them this way, and it’s all about protection.

“This meant that any attackers going up the steps had their sword hands (right hand) against the inside curvature of the wall, making it incredibly difficult for them to wield their swords,” Will Kalif of All Things Medieval explains. The defenders, on the other hand, could readily swing their swords and, because to this special design, their bodies were exposed far less than their attackers’ bodies.

Secret Passages

Creating hidden tunnels and secret chambers was not a novel technique during the medieval period, when secret passages were an intrinsic element of the architecture of most castles.

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