Types of Castles
Each castle began as a simple wooden structure and, over time, developed into the strong, stone fortress that is most commonly recognized today.
The Motte and Bailey castle was one of the first castles built by the Normans when they came to England and it consisted of two parts: the motte and the bailey. The motte was a large hill or mound of earth on which a wooden structure was built to serve as a keep or lookout tower. The bailey was built on the ground below the motte and was connected by a wooden bridge that could be removed if necessary.
Both the motte and bailey were surrounded by a wooden fence, or palisade, and some of these types of castles were surrounded by a ditch or moat.
The stone keep castle was one of the first types of castle to incorporate stone as the main building material. These castles centered around a tall stone structure called a keep which housed the kitchens where food was made as well as the living quarters. The keep was built in a rectangular shape at first but later developed to hold a more cylindrical shape that eliminated weak corners. Thick outer walls surrounded the keep and the bailiey, the open area between keep and wall, was used to shelter animals and workshops.
The most effective type of castle, in terms of defense, was the concentric castle which was developed during the 12th and 13th centuries. The key element of the concentric castle was its walls. The thick, high walls of the castle itself were reinforced by a border of lower but equally thick walls set at a short distance from the curtain. The varying heights of the walls made it possible for archers to be station on both sets of walls.
The entire structure of the castle was made even more protected by a ditch or moat which could only be crossed using the drawbridge.