During the Middle Ages much of Europe was divided up between lords and princes. They would rule the local land and all the people who lived there.
In order to defend themselves, they built their homes as large castles in the center of the land they ruled. They could defend from attacks as well as prepare to launch attacks of their own from their castles.
Originally castles were made of wood and timber. Later they were replaced with stone to make them stronger. Castles were often built at the top of hills or where they could use some natural features of the land to help with their defense.
After the Middle Ages castles weren’t built as much, especially as larger artillery and cannon were designed that could easily knock down their walls.
Although castle design varied widely throughout Europe, there were some similar features that many castles incorporated:
There was the moat- A moat was a defensive ditch dug around the castle. It could be filled with water and there was typically a drawbridge across it to get to the castle gate.
the keep- The keep was a large tower and the last place of defense in a castle.
The curtain wall- The wall around the castle which had a walkway on it from which defenders could fire arrows down onto attackers.
The Arrow Slits – These were slits cut into the walls that allowed archers to shoot arrows at attackers, but remain safe from return fire.
The Gatehouse – The gatehouse was built at the gate to help reinforce the castle defenses at its weakest point
and the Battlements – Battlements were at the tops of castle walls. Generally they were cut out from walls allowing defenders to attack while still being protected by the wall