The Incredible Evolution Of The British Castle Explained (Video)
The evolution of the British castle is a fascinating tale. Castles were initially fortified places, serving as private residences for individuals rather than defenses for communities. Iron Age hillforts provided the foundation for later castles, strategically positioned for an elevated advantage. King Alfred the Great created burrs and road systems to resist Viking invasions, although these were not typically classified as castles. The core components of a castle included a motte, a raised hill supporting the castle, a keep as the central defensive structure, and a bailey, an enclosed area defended by walls or palisades. Moats, trenches surrounding the castle, added another layer of defense.
Castles arrived in England with the Norman Conquest in 1066, enabling Norman barons and knights to assert control. Over time, castles transitioned from wood to stone structures, emphasizing comfort alongside defense. Castle warfare had established rules, with sieges, trebuchets, arrow slits, and boiling water as common tactics. The English Civil War revived castle warfare, but by the 18th and 19th centuries, castles became ruins, romanticized remnants of a bygone era. However, they experienced brief rejuvenations during World War I and World War II for military purposes.
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Top image: Bodiam Castle, England. Source: veneratio / Adobe Stock.