Stone Keep Castles

Because of the danger of fire with a wooden castle such as the Motte and Bailey castle, the next step was to replace a Motte and Bailey castle with a Stone Keep. Stone Keeps were first starting to be built around the latter part of the 11th century. These Stone Keeps had very thick stone walls and very few windows. Turrets would be used as a high vantage point for soldiers to watch for enemy attack. Entrance to a Stone Keep was through outside stone stairs, directly to the first floor of the keep, while the kitchens and the lower hall were on the ground floor. The living quarters and the upper hall would be on the floors above. Stone keeps provided a much more solid defense against attack compared to previous wooden structures. As with a Motte and Bailey castle, the Bailey was located outside the keep but protected by a stone wall instead of a wooden palisade. Shelters, stables and workshops would be built inside the bailey against the strong stone walls. The keep and the bailey would be surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge for entrance into the bailey and castle. There are a few construction styles that were common with Stone Keeps.


Polygonal or Many-Sided Keep

To allow for better defense, some castles were built using a Polygonal design. This multi-sided shape would provide a better vantage point for the archers


Many Sided Keep

Round Keep

A Round Keep was one of the strongest castle designs. A round tower would not have any sharp corners that prevented the view of the archers. It would provide a broad view for the soldiers. There would also not be any weak corners that the enemy could tunnel under and collapse a wall.  Also, a Round Tower would allow enemy missiles to bounce and slide off the smooth walls.  


Square Keep

A Square Keep is a type of Stone Castle that has the various rooms stacked and built upon each other. The roofs of the Square Keep often had battlements to allow soldiers to guard the castle from above. Entrance to the castle would be from outside stairs into the first floor. Square Keeps had their drawbacks in that the archers could not see attackers around the sharp corners of the castle. Also, the corners of a square keep provided a weak spot where the stone could be damaged more easily.


You will notice that many castles use combinations of parts of these various designs.