Stone, mortar, wood-these were the simple
components used to construct some of the most heavily fortified
structures ever created.
Early castles relied on the surrounding
landscape to provide much of the protection. Early castles
were made of wood and built on hills of "mottes".
Surrounded by a high, wooden palisade, motte and bailey castles
were used widely until the Norman invasion of 1066. These
fortifications proved too easy to burn, and stone was then
used more frequently.
Castles were rarely the most comfortable
place to live, with only the lord and his family given adequate
heat and other amenities. Medieval castles were built for
safety, not comfort. Windows were little more than slits in
the wall. Cold, stone floors and walls rarely kept in heat,
and water had to be brought by the bucketful throughout the
castle. Walls were built high to protect from advancing armies,
and to provide needed lookout positions.
The simple stone and mortar architecture
made repairs fairly easy to make. It was not uncommon for
stones to be used over and over with each successive castle
built on the same location. Cannons and gunpowder made the
castle ineffective and these large structures evolved in the
later Middle Ages and Renaissance to become manor homes and