Curious Facts About Castles

Castles Galore

Fact: There Are 1500 Castle Sites in England.

This is according to the Castellarium Anglicanum which is supposed to be the ultimate authority on castles in England and Wales. Note the intentional use of the term “site,” as many of these castles are ruined to the point of invisibility, while over 800 have some remnants, and more than 300 are still standing and structurally intact to a large degree. Also note, there is some debate as to what constitutes a “castle,” as some structures claim to be castles even as they are definitively not so.


Uncomfortable

Fact: Castles Used to Be Completely Uncomfortable.

When you think of a castle, you usually think of lavish amenities and grand-scale poshness, but who cares how big the barn is, when its still slathered in mud and smells like horse manure. Similarly, castles were often poorly lit (the sun came through tiny slits for windows); they were damp. After all castles were build primarily for defense; creature comforts were on the back-burner. Eventually however, castles came to be outfitted with pretty rugs and artful stained-glass windows as somebody had the bright idea to make these things livable, and to have the interior be a reflection of wealth as well as the exterior.


Food for Fun

Fact: Eating Was the Primary Means of Entertainment.

The castle was a very boring place. Essentially, all anyone did was stick around making sure nobody touched their stuff. Outdoors, recreational activities included a whole bunch of training. Manly things indeed. Indoors however, it was much more bleak. Chess was one of the few games that did exist in the day, but the number one way to cure boredom was to eat (which people still do to this day). There’d be great feasts full of food and drink, jesters and minstrels. Nowadays, we have T.V. dinners and six-packs. And you don’t need to be of high social standing to enjoy those (and you usually aren’t).


Servant’s Lives

Fact: Personal Servants Received Some of the Luxury.

The personal servants in the Middle Ages were treated like the family dog… and that’s not a bad thing. They got to sleep in the same isolated quarters as the castle owners, which, while the rest of the castle may have been cold and dreary, was heated by a personal fireplace and definitely the warmest place in the castle. While they did sleep on the floor, they were given warm blankets. Elsewhere in the castle, residents of lower social standing slept in the towers and relied upon body heat and light bed dressings for warmth. They only wish they could be the lapdog of the nobility.


The Well

Fact: Achilles Heel? The Well.

The well was like that one weak spot on the Star; it was an ultimate source of vulnerability. Sure there were dozens of ways to pour sand and molten substances on oncoming aggressors, and the structural soundness of the castle ensured impenetrability, but if the well wasn’t properly-secured, or if it ran dry, the rest was very useless.