Some later medieval castles had walls that were just 15 to 20 feet (4.6 m to 6 m) high, while the walls of the strongest castles were often 30 feet (9 m) or more high. The largest castle ever built was by Henry VIII in England; it is called Windsor Castle and its wall is about a mile around.
In general, the larger the country, the bigger its castles tended to be. France had many large castles, including those of the kings of France at Château Gaillard near Rouen and their capital city Paris. Castles like these would have had much larger walls than those found in England or Germany.
However, even smaller countries had castles. Scotland's castles were mostly made up of large fortified houses built during the 11th and 12th centuries, but some of them grew into large castles over time. One such house that became a large castle was Edinburgh Castle. It has been described as "the last fortress Europe created with its own resources."
The history of castles shows that they were important structures used by powerful people to protect themselves. Although they served this purpose early on in Europe's history, they were also used as prisons where people could be held hostage or for other purposes not related to defense.
The wall of Framlingham Castle in England rose 40 feet (12 meters) above the ground. The tower of St. Stephen's Church in Jerusalem is 80 feet (24 m) tall.
The size of castles varied a great deal. The largest castles were generally made up of several buildings arranged around an open area with access to water on most sides. These are called "castles within castles" and they could be as large as half a million dollars today. Smaller castles usually consisted of one or two buildings with walls about 20 feet (6 m) high. Some small castles were just clusters of tents built next to each other; others were made out of stone or brick.
In general, the more powerful a kingdom or state, the larger its castles tended to be. But there were also many small castles built by smaller kingdoms or states. And even within large empires, some places were able to protect themselves with small castles while others relied heavily on larger fortifications.
It's hard to say exactly how many castles were built during the medieval period, but it's safe to assume that it was a lot.
The height of the walls varied greatly each castle, although they were typically 2.5-6 m (8.2-19.7 ft) thick. They were typically capped with crenellations or parapets that protected defenders. The walls could be fairly thin if they were not meant to withstand a long siege, but even so, they would usually be at least 1.5 m (5 feet).
The weight of the wall depended on how much material was used in its construction. A stone wall would be heavy, while a wood and mud wall would be quite light. A thick stone wall would weigh many tons, while a thin wooden wall would probably only weigh a few hundred pounds.
A fortress could have one or more gates. These would be the main entrances into the castle from outside and would generally have a guardroom where soldiers were stationed during off-hours. There might also be an elevator or stairs inside the gate for easy access to elevated battlements. From there, all parts of the fortress were relatively close together so warriors could quickly reach any spot within it.
Fortresses were used to protect towns or castles themselves. If a town was under threat of attack, it would likely try to best defend itself by building a strong fortress around it.
The Chateau de Coucy keep, or donjon, is often regarded as the highest medieval castle tower ever erected, at 55 meters tall and 35 meters wide. It was built in the 1220s by Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy, in Picardy, France, and was destroyed in April 1917 during World War I. The ruins can be visited today.
Other castles around the world have taller towers, but none higher than the donjon's 55-meter height limit. The tallest surviving part of the Chateau de Coucy is its curtain wall, which measures 50 meters from base to crown. This makes it the largest pre-Revolutionary fortress in Europe.
The Tower of London is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient castles. Its oldest part is the White Tower, which was built between 1071 and 1107. Today, it houses various museums including the Crown Jewels. The building was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Fountains Abbey was built in 1725 by William Beckford, a wealthy English banker. He hired Irish architect Francis Smith to design his dream home and work site. Fountains Abbey is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Leeds, England.
Burgh Castle was built in 1180 by Henry II of England. Over time, the castle has been used for defense purposes, then as a residence for the owners of the castle, now called the Burgh family.
Castles normally take two to 10 years to build. Let's take a look at a modern castle building project to study and comprehend medieval castle building procedures. The first thing you should know about building a castle is that it is a large-scale, complicated undertaking. In fact, no two castles are the same: their size can vary from small fortresses to huge structures covering hundreds of acres.
The second thing you should know is that a castle needs resources that may not be available in all areas. For example, if you want to build a stone castle, you will need plenty of high quality rock available in the area where the castle is being built. If you want to build a wooden castle, then you will need to find well-seasoned timber for the walls and beams. A final point to note is that some castles were never completed; they were simply used as defensive positions until they were destroyed by enemy forces. However, even when unfinished, old castles can still be impressive structures!
Using these facts as a guide, we can now estimate how long it took to build a medieval castle. If we assume that the King was able to secure the services of experienced builders who knew what they were doing, then the project could have been finished in two years.