A Castle Under Siege
Castles were built to survive long sieges and to withstand an attack by the best
of weapons, such as a battering ram or a huge catapult. Castle walls were immensely
thick. Most of the castle walls were made up of two layers of stone, held
together by a kind of cement called mortar, and a filling of stone rubble,
to insure extra
most important defense weapons
soldiers were not originally Knights. First they were just boys at the age of
seven, who practiced archery
and playing with wooden swords. When they reached the age of fourteen they became squires.
A squire helped the Knights by going hunting with them and handing them their arrows.
They also observed their technique. These knights
either fought on foot or horseback. After battle, if they lived, they were
rewarded with a piece the King’s land, where they built houses for their
had arrow slits or ‘loopholes’ which protected an
archer from an arrow. The archer could stand behind a loophole and fire an arrow at the enemy.
ballista was a large device used to fire spears. It was similar to a crossbow
but was larger and fired a spear with great strength.
battering ram was a machine used to break through walls. Chains hung on a thick
tree trunk. One end of the trunk it was sharpened and covered with iron. This pointed end
was aimed at the wall. Soldiers swung the battering ram back and fourth, until
it broke through the wall.
mechanism was used to hurl stones and other objects.
drawbridge was a bridge that could be raised or lowered over
the moat or ditch.
flaming catapult was a machine used to set a besieged castle on fire. When the
lock was released, the arm came forward and hurled a flaming object soaked in
tar. This object would land inside the castle walls, setting structures on fire.
gatehouse defended the main entrance. This was the castles weakest point
therefore many lords tried to make them stable.
Greek fire was boiled oil, when dropped from the top of a castle, it boiled
under the enemy’s armor and burned their flesh.
mangon was a machine that could hurl heavy rocks or other objects at the
castle walls. It had an arm, which was pulled or drawn back. Under the great
pressure then release. The arm would shoot forward firing a missile.
Under the Walls
under the walls was another method of attack. First, a tunnel was dug under walls.
Wooden beams held up the roof of the tunnel. The roof would collapse and stones
from the castle wall would fall down into the tunnel. This left an opening into
the castle at the bottom of the walls. The enemy would use this to get into the
holes were holes in the floor above where arrows could be fired on enemies
through the holes.
heavy timber grill called a portcullis could be lowered to block the entrance to
the castle. The portcullis was built to slide up and down in grooves cut into
the walls. The bottom end of each timber was sharpened and covered with iron. If
the attackers happened to break through the portcullis, they still would have to
get through heavy wooden doors.
siege tower was a high tower on wheels used to gain entry into a castle. It
could be rolled beside the castle walls. The attackers would climb up inside the
siege tower. At the top, they lowered a drawbridge and tried to cross over onto
the top of the castle wall. The outside of the tower was covered with wet animal
skins. This protected the soldiers inside from arrows that were fired at them
from the castle. This method also protected the tower from catching on fire.
trebuchet was a huge catapult. It was used to break the hoards of a castle. A
missile was placed in the sling; the beam was wound down using a machine called
a windlass. When released, the beam shot upright, pulled down by the
counterweight. This missile was hurled with great force.
winch room was the room in a castle that the crank of the drawbridge and
portcullis was kept.