May 20

Building the Medieval Castle by Elizabeth Rose

It’s a great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Rose back to my blog.

Lizrose300Anna, thank you for having me as your guest.

I love anything medieval, and while writing my medieval romances, my love for castles had me wondering how they actually built them back then. So in my novel, Amethyst – Book 4, of my Daughters of the Dagger Series, I explore the process by having my heroine, Amethyst de Burgh, be an assistant to her uncle, who is the master mason in charge of building a castle for the hardened border lord, Marcus Montclair.

Castle construction was extremely expensive, therefore only the rich could afford it. Castles first started out as motte and bailey types made of wood in the 11th century. By the 14th century when my books take place, they were much stronger fortresses made of stone which were safer from the threat of being burned by fire.

It also was a timely ongoing process, sometimes taking up to ten years to complete. Thousands of workers were involved in constructing a castle, and sometimes brought their families with them. Therefore, temporary villages were constructed made of wattle and daub just outside the site, to house all these people. Wattle and daub consisted of walls built by weaving sticks together, and then the gaps being filled in with a mixture of straw, mud, water and manure. It was also used when building a castle, usually on the buildings in the inner ward such as the stables, the kennels or the mews. Here is a good clip I found on You Tube that will let you see construction with wattle and daub in process. https://youtu.be/VIJlFBAAjvE

Workers consisted of a master mason or master builder to head the project, and lots of laborers to haul stone from a nearby quarry. Masons split the stones using their chisels in a series of holes to break them open. Then they shaped them and they were stacked and mortared together by men using scaffolds and man-operated cranes. Oftentimes work subsided during the winter months because the rain and snow would ruin the mortar. Women weaved baskets that were used to haul supplies, and also tended to wounds and cooked. Carpenters took care of finishing off the chambers and chapel, and most of the inside work. amethyst3001

The parts of a castle consisted of the keep, or main building, usually where you found the Great Hall. This was surrounded by an inner ward and everything one might need to survive should they be trapped inside the castle during a siege. For instance, the mews for the birds, a blacksmith’s hut, the stables, the kennels, and the important coveted well being some of the main features. There was an inner curtain or wall protecting this with towers and turrets at the corners, covered with slate roofs that helped protect against fire. The walls were strong, sometimes 8 to 20 feet thick. They were filled with rubble and daub that served to make them even stronger, and provide insulation to keep the occupants from freezing during the winter months. There was a walkway or battlements at the top of the walls for soldiers to keep watch, as well as spiral staircases in the turrets.

Most castles were surrounded by a ditch or moat. The moat was often filled with water to keep the attackers at bay and prevent them from tunneling underneath. But sometimes the ditches were left dry and even filled with pointed stakes instead. A drawbridge could be raised in the gatehouse for protection, and across the moat was a barbican or guard house. As part of their defenses, castles had portcullises and arrow slits built right into the walls. And of course my favorite were the murder holes or machicolations that were used to drop rocks or boiling oil on the attackers’ heads.

Of course, this is just scraping the surface on the process of what it took to build a strong fortress back in medieval times. If you’d like to find out more, pick up a copy of Amethyst where I put my headstrong heroine in a position of power building a castle for a border lord who has no respect for women.

Right now for a limited time only, you can also get a copy of Amethyst in my Border Lords and Ladies Boxed Set which also includes Lady Renegade – Book 2 from my Legacy of the Blade Series, Aidan – Book 2, from my MadMan MacKeefe Scottish Series, and also two of my series prequels all for only 99 cents!



Elizabeth Rose is the author of over 40 books and an Amazon top 100 best selling author in several categories. She writes medieval, paranormal, western and small town contemporary romance. She has also just released her first young adult novel, Mary, Mary, that was a finalist in the Golden Palm Contest. Her books have been seen on The History Channel and Wild Chicago, and also been nominated for awards. She is known for her series romance which includes: Legacy of the Blade Series, Daughters of the Dagger Series, MadMan MacKeefe Series, Greek Myth Fantasy Series, Elemental Series, Cowboys of the Old West Series, Tarnished Saints Series, and Gnarled Nursery Rhymes Series. And watch for a new medieval series coming later this year.

You can read excerpts of any of Elizabeth’s books and watch her book trailer videos by going to her website at http://elizabethrosenovels.com. Be sure to sign up for her mailing list so you don’t miss out on any specials or new releases.

Watch the Daughters of the Dagger book trailer video: https://youtu.be/ssDA4LGsqH0.



Skip to comment form

  1. Elizabeth Rose

    Anna, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your site today!

    1. Anna Markland

      My pleasure, Elizabeth.

  2. Stanalei Fletcher

    That is fascinating about the castle building, Elizabeth. The thickness of the walls reminds me of all the forts build along the east coast of the U.S. Best of luck with Amethyst and your box set.

    1. Elizabeth Rose

      Yes, I found it fascinating doing the research on castle building for Amethyst. I’ve been remodeling, and that is so much work and so exhausting, I can’t imagine how much energy it took to build a castle. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Lana Williams

    Wonderful post, Elizabeth! Very interesting! Tweeted as well. Your book sounds great!

    1. Elizabeth Rose

      Lana, thanks so much! And thanks for tweeting too.

  4. Jill Hughey

    Nice post. I think I’d feel very secure in a castle.

    1. Elizabeth Rose

      Jill, I agree with you, I’d feel secure too. Although back then, the enemy still seemed to have ways to get through. Thanks for commenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>