Last week’s article on castles, as the first of my Top Ten Reasons Every Gamer Should Live in England, draw a lot of attention. I could (and maybe someday will) write a whole book on the subject, but I don’t have the time right now. So instead, here are a few more notes. Many of these derive from the comments you (or someone like you) left on the earlier post; others are just more tidbits I figured I might share. Enjoy!

A set of machicolations, seen from below. These are not as common as you'd think, in part because they're fairly late in the arc of castle-building technology. This is at Bodiam.

Same machicolation, looking down from above. The effectiveness is obvious, but they require a pretty thin battlement and create a bit of vulnerability, so they were used sparingly.

A real dungeon, this one at Raglan castle (or is it Goodrich?). Not very big. No chains, no torture devices. Just cold, dark, misery, and pneumonia. That outta do the trick.

The barbican: A tiny castle that stands in front of the castle's gate. Very few of these survive, at least in the UK. This one's at Lewes (pronounced "Lewis"), where, ironically, it's in great shape but the castle itself is almost otherwise gone. Look: Machicolations over the gate entrance!

The Lewes barbican again, showing how it stands close to but outside the castle walls.

And again, this time showing the view between the barbican and the castle gate proper.

We've all heard of the concentric castle. Beaumaris on Anglesey is the perfect example. Here's the outer wall and moat. Lovely, eh?

And here's the outer ward, with the outer wall to our left and the inner to our right.

And, finally, the inner bailey. Beaumaris is huge, built to the ideal, and perfectly symmetrical—exactly the type of castle a gamer would design. It was so frickin' mighty that it was only built as tall as you see here; the towers were never finished. And what looks like ruins are actually unfinished inner buildings. It did the job even in this half-complete state.

Multi-layer wall walks at Caernarfon. In most castles, you just shoot from the tops of the walls. At Caernarfon, there are galleries built into the walls letting archers fire from several levels.

I've been talking about UK castles so far, but their design principles aren't universal. Here's the Moorish Silves castle in southern Portugal. I love the tower set out from the wall.

And here's the inside. Obviously there's some modern construction here, but the big open space is typical. Moorish castles seem to lack the central strong point (a motte, keep, or major gatehouse) that European castles are usually built around.

And on the subject of Moorish castles, here's the totally awesome one at Sintra in Portugal. Built on the top of a mountain strewn with giant boulders. Like Silves, it's just walls and towers, with no central building as part of the fortification.

Another view of Sintra. This is one spectacular castle!

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