Castles: An Evolutionary Art Form (Official Post 2)

Castles in Britain are very interesting. Two of the most interesting things about castles is how they have evolved over time and the different uses castles have had over time. Early on, castles were mostly made out of wood and were not very large due to the lack of effective tools and resources. As time went on and better materials became more prevalent, bigger and better castles were constructed. A variety of materials were used in the making of castles such as wood, earth, and stone. Motte and bailey castles were more unique because they used the earth to their advantage. By placing the main tower, or the keep, at the top of the hill there is not as big of a need to have an entire castle made of stone due to the height of the keep. As hundreds of years went by and weapons started to become more advanced, such as trebuchets and ballistae, it became necessary that castles were made out of stone. In the late Middle Ages, some vernacular and parish-church buildings were found made out of brick. They also found some castles made out of brick despite military disadvantages. Many castles had a variety of materials used in the entire building of the castle. People did this because it was not convenient to use stone for an entire castle. It would take a very long time and require a lot of man power. Often, the outer walls would be made of wood and the keep was made of stone so resources could be allocated effectively. As castles started to adapt as the years went by, castles started to gain comfortability as well as better architecture. In some castles you can see Roman architecture on the first floor and the second floor was Gothic architecture. The castles also transformed from strict military use to home of lords and meeting places for political figures. It was not uncommon that a castle had a variety of uses. Castles had many uses to the people that lived in the castle and in the surrounding areas. Castles were often located in the center of agricultural areas. By having a center in the middle of farmland it was easy to collect food and resources from farmers in the area. Castles were also used as courts and jails. Prisoners of the castle stayed in dungeons called oubliettes, these were deep holes where prisoners sat with no way out. Castles also had privileged areas. These areas usually were divided by class. The more powerful and wealthy you were, the more access you had to parts of the castle. A lot of the rooms in the castle gave hints about what the room was used for. For example, if fireplaces were found in the rooms, they were more than likely used as a living quarters. Castles are still used today as displays of art and history, some are even used to host political functions. Castles are not just abandoned buildings of the past. They give us insight into lives that were lived and lost, and give us a sense of art and style of the people before us.

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