|Castle graphic and floor plans, based on Restormel Castle
|Above: sunrise at the castle
Click here for a larger image.
The graphic above was created and rendered from computer code (written by BotRejectsInc) with Pov-Ray
(v3.6). The hills were randomly generated using planet_genesis to create a bitmap at random (according to
parameters that I set) and then used to generate a height-field. The graphic is based on Restormel Castle in
Cornwall, UK. This castle has a shell-keep, which was a common feature of some early Mediaeval castles in
Britain. A gatehouse is attached, and the shell-keep is surrounded by a moat (dry in this case). Moats would
have been deeper in their day than they are in present day ruins. In particular, a moat and the motte (earthen
mound upon which the keep sits) would be cleared and deepened, especially when trouble threatened, and all
vegetation in the motte and near the castle would be cleared, so as to make life hard for any attackers.
Sometimes painted wooden planks were added to the sides of mottes to make them slippery (the paint helps
Inside the shell-keep were a number of buildings surrounding a central courtyard (I haven't added these yet).
The most important buildings within the castle (important from the castle owner's point of view!) would have
been plastered, painted and perhaps decorated with tapestries. Some castles were painted on the outside too.
Indeed wooden castles might be covered with hardened mud or paint to help retard fire. Servants quarters
rarely got such treatment and would show bare stone. The decor would depend on the wealth of the castle
owner and the function of the castle. A small stronghold used only in times of war would have little luxury, but
many castles were status symbols where the lord could entertain important guests and impress all the poor
peasants (who would have been forced to build it, along with paid skilled workers like stone-smiths).
Castles also served as local administrative centres where the lord's men would collect and count taxes, or raise
armies in times of trouble. However, the narrow windows, designed to make unauthorised entry difficult, made
life rather dark and damp in castles and many lords (and ladies, indeed some ladies owned castles) preferred
to live in a more luxurious manor house in times of peace.
Contrary to popular myth, it wasn't really the invention of gunpowder that brought an end to castles. In fact,
castles and guns coexisted in use for many centuries, and besides the strongest keeps with walls twenty feet
thick would stand up to most modern missiles, never mind cannon balls! Though gunpowder may have speeded
up castle sieges, it still did not invalidate the advantage of castles. However, in the prolonged peace that
mainland Britain experienced in post-Mediaeval times many castles were neglected and fell in to ruin - castles
were expensive to maintain. Many sovereigns also restricted castle building, because nobles with too many
castles might become a handful and threaten the crown! Also, at the end of the English Civil War many castles
were slighted to prevent their future use, which actually demonstrates that they were still of great military
advantage in the age of cannon. Stone fortifications, however, continued to be used until modern times, but the
increasing mobility of modern armies has perhaps been the main blow against the castle, as the Maginot Line
In peacetime castle garrisons were usually very small. The wealthiest lords would maintain garrisons of twenty
men-at-arms at most. Most castles had far less, perhaps a couple of men-at-arms or even seargents (light
horse-riders, each of which was reckoned equivalent to half a knight) an archer or two and a knight, and a few
servants. Many had even less than this, perhaps a castellan, servant or two and an archer, but the beauty of
castles was that a handful of men could defend them against large armies for a very long period of time. Even
siege engines that hurled stones at castle walls would usually takes weeks to batter a hole through. In war time,
however, most castle garrisons would contain a few archers and a group of knights (heavily armed horse
riders) and seargents. Though a small fighting unit, such a garrison was highly skilled, heavily armed and very
mobile. Garrisons from nearby castles could rapidly converge in the field to form an army, and then disperse
back to their castles when on the defensive. Castles were so tough that it was often easier to conquer the land
and ignore the castles, but the trouble was the garrisons could then use guerrilla tactics and harass supply
lines and so on.
A castle such as the one above might also have been surrounded by an earthen bank, perhaps topped by a
palisade. In times of war, wooden structures may have been added to the battlements, often jutting outward with
slits in the floor through which missiles could be dropped on enemies at the foot of the wall, thereby protecting
the wall from attack. These structures might be covered in animal hides to repel fire.
I have constructed some floor plans, based in part on the actual plans of Restormel and added them below.
Click on each link to view the appropriate plan:
I hope that somebody out there will find these plans useful for their fantasy role-play gaming. More fantasy
role-play materials will be added here from time to time, so please check back often! If you would like to request
Bot studied Mediaeval Castle Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK.
Email Bot at: BotRejectsInc@Cronodon.com
Extra pics - click pics to enlarge. Maybe I shall add a few trees...