THE MIDDLE AGES: THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE'S TOWERS
The Towers: Chapel, Prison, and Bedroom
The towers of the inner ward were used for other
purposes than just defense, unlike the towers of the outer ward and the
town wall. There were sometimes only four inner ward towers, and they
much larger. There were four main floors in
each tower with a fifth floor (the lookout tower) at the top. The first
three floors were enclosed inside the tower. The ground floor was usually
used as storage room and was called the basement. The second and third
floors could be used as living space, or an office for the different
servants in the castle, such as a steward. There was usually a
fireplace in one or both of these floors. Smoke traveled up through a
hole in the wall to the top of the tower. The fourth floor was really
just an open platform on the roof. It was capped on all sides with
merlons. The fifth floor was
the top of the lookout tower. It was also capped with merlons. All the
floors could be reached by a spiral staircases built into the wall. The
floors themselves were usually made of wood. Like the floors in most
houses, they were covered with reeds and sweet smelling herbs. The first
two floors had no
windows except for arrow holes usually. The third floor and occasionally
the second floor had windows. There was no glass because that was very
expensive. In the opening, a iron grate was laid to keep out attackers if
they managed to climb up the tower to that height. Shudders were used to
keep out wind.
One of the towers in the inner ward was usually
reserved as a chapel. It was different from the other towers in that it
had one room that was two stories high. There was still a basement and
two floors exposed to the element above the two storied room. In the two
storied room was the chapel. It often had stained glass windows, albeit
not overly large ones. The purpose of the tower was still defense. These
windows also had metal panes to protect from intruders. The altar was
next to the windows. On the second floor level was a place for the lord
and his family to sit. Other church goers would stand on the wooden
floor above the basement. Mass was said by the castle chaplain.
Towers could also be used as prisons. Below the
basement, a hole could be dug or cut into rock. It was reached through a
trap door from above. These holes in the ground were very dark and were
used to keep prisoners for ransom, usually. Criminals were usually not
held in a castle. These holes were called dungeons, or oubliettes.
A tower might be used for many other things too.
They were often used for servant's quarters. In many larger castles, the
steward had his own tower where his bedroom and office was located.
Other town and castle
officials often lived in towers.
tower could be used as a guesthouse, also.
To go back, click here.