Each Battle Castle episode stands alone.
In this special online segment we look at castle design to compare and contrast the features shared by the castles. This time we examine the entrances of castles.
Every castle must have at least one weakness - an entrance. Deadly defences were engineered to compensate for these breaks in the walls. Here's how the Battle Castle Six's compare:
Conwy Castle: Edward I’s masterpiece boasts two elaborate entrances. To the west, the landward access was fortified by no less than three sets of doors and had multiple portcullises. To the east, the entrance from the castle’s water gate is believed to have been guarded by a walled approach, and there is evidence of machicolations at both.
Dover Castle: At the time that it was besieged in 1216, Dover Castle’s fortifications on its north side were magnificent. The inner wall boasted a double gatehouse, still evident today, and the outer wall’s entrance was guarded by massive towers. The entire approach was further fortified by a wooden palisade, which would have almost certainly have had at least one protected point of access.
Malbork Castle: Malbork’s main entrance is secured with five iron-bound gates. It also features a portcullis, and had a drawbridge in the Middle Ages. The main access to the High Castle is over a long, wooden bridge which spans a moat. This reflects a defensive strategy of the Teutonic Knights – if one section of the castle was taken, the bridge could be lit afire to impede the enemy’s advance.
Malaga: Malaga’s Alcazaba boasts a 90-degree turn about midway through to slow a besieger’s assault. Back in medieval times, the city was also surrounded by walls, which is believed to have included at least one elaborate bridge entrance over a river with a tower at each end. The entrance at the top of the coracha, a walled passageway that leads up to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, is also fortified.
Crac des Chevaliers: Crac des Chevalier’s most well-known approach is the infamous eastern entrance. Like Malaga’s Alcazaba, it features a “hairpin” turn, but when it comes to active defence, this ramp entrance goes a big step further. At the bend, the garrison could position themselves above the attackers and rain down crossbow bolts, quicklime, and boiling water.
Chateau Gaillard: As Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold is largely ruins today, it’s difficult to know exactly what all the entrances looked like, though it is believed that the castle featured at least one drawbridge. History tells us that the approach to the inner bailey was via a chalk bridge, perhaps left over from the castle’s hasty construction, which proved to be a huge weakness.
To see these entrances in more detail, check out our Flickr Gallery