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The Concentric Castle

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

The Concentric Castle
The Middle Ages encompass one of the most violent periods in English History are are epitomised by the castles of the Middle Ages. The development, architecture and building of these great fortresses changed as time progressed, influenced by important historical events such as the crusades and the technology of siege warfare. This page provides interesting and important information about the Concentric Castle.   

What is a Concentric Castle?
What exactly is a concentric castle? A Concentric Castle can be described as "a Castle within a Castle". A Concentric castle consists of lots of buildings, walls, towers and gatehouses in one massive castle complex which were built within in successive lines of defence.

When was the first Concentric Castle built?
Who built the first concentric castle? King Edward I (12391307). Who designed the first Concentric castle and who was the architect of the first concentric castle? King Edward I ( Longshanks ) employed the services of the best architect and builder of the Medieval period who was called Master James of St George. When was the first concentric castle built?  King Edward I commissioned the building of four major concentric castles in Wales - Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth and Aberystwyth in 1278.

Information on the exterior of the Concentric Castle
The following details provide a description and information on the exterior of the concentric castle:

  • The concentric castle was dominated by a strong defence system
  • The Concentric castle always had access to fresh water within the castle
  • The Keep or Main Tower was built in a round or polygonal shape
  • Shaped stone was introduced and cut with precision enhancing the design and style of the concentric castle
  • Solid walls, built at different heights and levels, and pillars were introduced to hold greater weights. 
  • Several Gatehouses were added to the concentric castle
  • Height, pointed arches and wider window openings were a feature of the concentric castle
  • Moats surrounded the whole of the Concentric Castle
  • The concentric castle featured strong defence systems. These included the Drawbridge, the Barbican, the Portcullis, Gatehouse, Moat, Crenellations, Murder Holes and Death traps

Information on the Interior of the Concentric Castle
The following details provide a description and information on the interior of the Medieval concentric castle:

  • The builders of Medieval Concentric castles used improved tools such as the chisel, as opposed to axes, which led to more decorative designs and tracery skills
  • Plumbing improved and lead was often used for the gutters and there is also evidence of piped water in the Concentric castles of the Middle Ages
  • Wainscoting was introduced. Wainscoting  involved the erection of wooden panels which were used to line the walls of a room
  • Artists were employed to decorate the interiors of concentric castles - wall paintings covered the walls above the wainscoting
  • Concentric Castle interiors were highly colourful - gold paint was a luxurious item which was used in vast quantities
  • Fireplaces and Chimneys were introduced
  • Additional staircases were introduced to concentric castles
  • Windows were much bigger, due to the introduction of the pointed arch which could support greater weight, allowing the walls of concentric castles to be thinner with wider window openings
  • Panes of glass were added to concentric castle windows. The castle windows were often painted with armorial designs, which replaced the horn or wooden shutters of the Norman castles
  • Kitchens were integrated into concentric castles - they included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food
  • Concentric castles had their own fresh water supply. The kitchens were equipped with a sink and drainage
  • Cleanliness improved in the Middle Ages and lavers ( stone basins used for washing ) were provided at the entrance of the dining hall
  • Bathing was usually conducted in wooden barrels but simply designed bathrooms were added to concentric Castles for the English Lords and royalty
  • There were many lavatories, called garderobes or privies included in the building of concentric Castles. The Privies were positioned as far away from the living chambers as practical and often had double doors added to reduce the smell. Shoots were provided for the discharge which often led to the castle moat
  • A limited number of Carpets and mats were introduced in the concentric castles which had beeen imported from the Holy Lands, but floors strewed with straw or rushes were still favoured.
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