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Castle Planning in the Fourteenth Century

Castle Planning in the Fourteenth Century

Castle Planning in the Fourteenth Century

By P. A. Faulkner

The Archaeological Journal, Vol.120 (1963)

Introduction: The form and content of any building is the expression of its designer’s brief and that brief will, almost inevitably, contain conflicting elements. Overshadowing the development of the medieval castle as a building is the conflict between its military and its domestic functions. The form taken at any particular time is bound to be a compromise between these two issues, which will not only vary in relative importance but will each one vary as techniques in their respective fields developed.

Although in this paper it is proposed to follow trends in domestic demands and observe their effect on the form of the castle, this aspect should not properly be treated in isolation and if little mention is made of the military element it must be remembered that this is, nevertheless, always present. It is proposed to analyse three individual 14th-century buildings as a means of determining these trends, but before doing so the position reached in the previous century must be summarised, first as to what may be established as the basic requirements for a household in terms of plan form and secondly as to how this was used to provide the accommodation demanded in the greater castles, thereby demonstrating something of the approach of the designers of that time to this particular problem.

Through the 13th century two common house plan forms dominate, the upper or twin hall type and the end hall or hall and chamber-block type. The upper hall house, which tended to die out towards the end of the century, consists essentially of two identical floor plans, superimposed on each other, each containing a hall with an inner chamber attached at one end. It may appear in more elaborate form with additional chambers attached to both hall and inner chamber while still retaining its twin nature providing for two households. Of the two forms the hall and chamber-block plan is the more persistent.

It was the basic form before the Conquest and, though temporarily swamped by the upper hall house, returned to increasing favour as the 13th century progressed. Its elements are a group or groups of chambers associated with a common hall. In its simplest form it appears as a ground floor hall with a two storey block of chambers at one end, providing for a single household. A number of groups of such chambers, each self sufficient, allows a number of households to be associated with a common hall. The chamber groups may vary from an elaborate suite of many rooms to a single chamber lodging.

Throughout the following paper it is assumed that the occurrence of a plan form which may be identified with one or other of these two types establishes the provision of accommodation for an independent household.