15 Interesting Castle Fun Facts
How much do you know about castles and who lived in them? It's time to see with our 15 fun castle facts! Find out all about what a 'keep' is, and why you wouldn't want to use the castle loo!
Castles! You probably know them best from fantasy films and Disney, but did you know castles have a real life, really cool history? We've put together some fun, weird, and occasionally gross facts all about castles and the people who lived there! Find out how long they took to build, which castle is the biggest, and why they keep ravens at the Tower of London! And if you liked this, why not check out more history facts here? Or why not have a look at these interesting Anglo Saxon facts? We've also got cool William Shakespeare facts for those of you who want some bard in your life!
1. Castles Were Built For Protection
Castle's aren't just there to look nice! Originally their main purpose was to be a defence against attacks and invaders. That's why they often have moats, thick walls and a drawbridge! Over time, fortified villages slowly developed into the castles we see today. They were often built in hard to reach places, like island, hilltops and next to the sea.
2. Castles Were Homes As Well
Castles were fortresses, but people lived their too. Usually a village would exist inside the castle walls, and in the daytime there would be a market and shops were people would trade and sell things. The castle would be open in the daytime and close its doors at night - and you'd better be inside if you wanted to stay!
3. There Are Hundreds of Castles You Can Visit All Over The UK
While some castles are sadly gone, the good news is that lots of them still exist all over the UK, and you can visit them! There are ruined castles, intact castles, and even castles that people still live in! You can find out more by researching Historic Scotland and English Heritage among other organisations!
4. The Main Part of The Castle is The Keep
The keep is the name of the big tower in the middle of the castle. This is where the most important people lived, and often everyone else would sleep in the great hall, for warmth and protection. Instead of a fireplace, there would be a big fire in the middle of the hall, and straw on the floor instead of carpets.
5. The Disney Castle is Based on a Real one
Yes, it's a real life castle! It's called Neuschwanstein Castle and it's in Germany! It wasn't build for defence, but rather as a home for royalty, and it stands on a hilltop! Nowadays when we think of castles we often think of these beautiful palaces, but for most of history, castles were cold, gloomy and not very pretty!
6. The Tower of London is Home to Some Special Ravens
You might have visited the Tower of London, and if you did, you probably met the ravens! The Tower is home to several ravens, who are tame and tend to eat leftover food if they find it! There's an official master of the ravens, and there's a legend that says something terrible will happen if they ever leave!
7. 'Castle' is Latin
The word castle comes from Latin and means 'fortress', which isn't surprising, because that's what it is! Castles were designed to keep enemies out - that meant drawbridges, very thick stone walls, moats, portcullises, arrow slits to fire at the enemy, and sometime even holes to pour boiling oil through! Ouch!
8. Most Castles Didn't Have Dungeons
Although dungeons are a popular idea in fantasy, most castles didn't have a room that was deliberately designed for prisoners. Most rooms in castles would actually be storerooms or living rooms, and rooms underground would be designed as a place to shelter during a siege. And people usually weren't tortured either - just kept their until their keepers had decided what to do with them!
9. You Wouldn't Want To Be In A Castle Siege
Speaking of sieges, you really wouldn't want to be caught up in one! During a siege, the inhabitants of a castle would often run out of food, and were forced to eat cats, dogs, rats and grass! And if your enemy was especially horrible, they might catapult dead bodies into the castle to try and give you diseases!
10. Castle's Were Originally Made of Wood
Castles were time consuming and difficult to build, so orginally, they were built of wood. The Normans popularised buidling castles out of stone, including the Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror. Because they were made of wood, which rots, there are no remaining original wooden castles today.
11. Castles Are Home To Lots of Ghosts
If you believe in them! Because most castles are hundreds of years old, lots of stories about ghosts have appeared over the years! These include the Tower of London, where Anne Boleyn is said to haunt the corridors, and Edinburgh castle, which is home to a ghostly piper!
12. The World's Largest Castle is In Poland
It's called Malbork Castle, and it was built in the 13th century. It has competition, though - Prague castle also claims to be the biggest! Both castles include not just keeps and walls, but lots of other buildings and churches too.
13. Castle's Didn't Have Toilets
There was no such thing as flushing toilets in medieval times. Instead, they had a hold in the ground that emptied directly outside into a cesspit or the moat. So be careful where you're standing!
14. It Took About Ten Years To Build A Castle
Yes, ten whole years, and a lot of work! Because castles are made of stone, the stones had to be quarried and then brought to the castle, which took a lot of time and effort! There were no diggers, cranes or bulldozers in those days!
15. Windsor Castle Is The Oldest Inhabited Castle in the World
Windsor Castle dates back to 1070 - that's 952 years ago, which is almost a thousand years old! It was also built by William I (busy guy), and today it's still home to the British Royal family.