Most castles were built between 9th to the 16th centuries. The castles were built to protect Europe’s noble families and the villages that surrounded them.
The first castles were built of wood with palisades of wooden stakes surrounding them. They soon found out that the wood was not strong enough to withstand the force of the battering rams or the rages of fires set by attacking armies. To better protect themselves, the nobility began to make walls of stone, first surrounding the castle, and then the walls of the castles themselves were made of stone.
Often the castles were built beside a natural fortification – built on an island in a lake, or on a high hill or by a cliff so that attacking armies would have a hard time approaching. If these natural defences could not be found, an artificial hill or moat would be created.
Another necessity would be the presence of a deep well, in case they could not leave the castle area when under siege.
The neighbouring villages would take refuge behind the castle gates, so there was room and provisions for the animals and the villagers as well as for the nobility and their staff. There would be trained soldiers who would be in charge of protecting the perimeter from the attacking armies. Often there were towers, and thick outside walls which could be patrolled.
There was everything that a noble man or woman would need. So indeed a man’s home is his castle!
Taken from Castles, by von Peschke, Hans-Peter, Tessloff Publishing 1998, Belgium ISBN No. 1-58185-011-5