Castles have got to be some of the most fascinating structures from our ancient and distant past. Traditionally built to protect and to serve, some of the most bizarre and fascinating keeps and towers are those you can still spot around the landscape to this day! Take a look below for 15 cool and awesome facts about castles.
1. Castles were built for dual purposes – specifically, they were used to help protect the people within them from the threat of invasion – however, they were also used as huge displays of wealth and grandeur. If you owned a castle, you were very big news indeed.
2. Windsor Castle remains a record-holder in many ways. It’s the biggest castle still standing in the UK, and it remains Europe’s oldest castle still holding occupants. It’s been home to royals for almost a millennium.
3. The oldest castle still standing today is French – it’s the Chateau de Doue-la-Fontaine, and it’s been part of the landscape since 950.
4. It’s completely possible to rent your own castle for the night! For example, you might wish to rent Forter Castle, a Scottish keep once built for the fifth Lord of Airlie in the 16th Century. It boasts mod cons thanks to a full restoration.
5. In many cases, anyone wishing to build a castle of their own across Europe and beyond would need the permission of a reigning monarch to go ahead.
6. Castle stairwells run clockwise for a reason. That reason is that most people likely to be attacking up the stairs were right-handed and would therefore be at a disadvantage when charging up them. Castle builders really did think of everything!
7. There are plenty of ancient castles across the world which are thought to be haunted. One of the most famous examples is that of Edinburgh Castle, which is even thought to be haunted by a dog!
8. However, the world’s most haunted castle is said to be Leap Castle, which you will find over in the Republic of Ireland. The ghost here doesn’t have any specific form but is referred to by locals as The Elemental.
9. Castles, traditionally, have no toilets built-in. That’s what a moat is for – disgustingly enough! You’d normally have to use a hole in your bedroom called a garderobe, which is both gross and draughty.
10. England is absolutely awash with castles. In fact, there are said to be more than 1,500 of them across the country.
11. Then again, there might be more, there might be fewer. That’s because there has always been some debate over what a castle actually is. If you go by the traditional definition, there are still impressive numbers of them countrywide.
12. Most castles, traditionally, had wells – to provide water. However, the location of the well was often the first port of call for any would-be invaders. That’s because they could easily poison wells with very little effort. In fact, if the well wasn’t protected, or topped up, the rest of the castle would be liable to fall pretty easily.
13. The world’s biggest castle can be found in Prague. Prague Castle is around 570m in length and 130m in width on average.
14. If you’re a fan of Gothic literature, it’s likely you’ll find plenty of it based in and around castles. That’s because they are fantastically imposing!
15. Drawbridges often served as the only way for people to access a castle, and even then, they’d still need to get past a heavy gate called a portcullis. However, this would often separate castle inhabitants from certain grounds, too. Not all castles have drawbridges, but the best-protected certainly made use of them!
16. Believe it or not, the first castles in history were made from wood, not stone. These belonged to the invading Normans, who set up castles on mounts. While making good use of the ground, these battlements were, of course, at risk of burning down. Back to the drawing board!