Castle Keep


The keep, located within a courtyard and surrounded by a curtain wall, was the heart of a medieval castle. The hall keep was a low building while the tower keep or donjon could have three or more floors and be topped by turrets and battlements. With its extra thick walls and protected entrance, the keep was generally the safest place in a castle during the siege warfare of the 11th and 12th century CE. Inside the largest building a person in the Middle Ages likely ever saw in their lives was the Great Hall, castle chapel, and residential quarters. Expensive and slow to build, tower keeps were steadily replaced from the mid-13th century CE by larger round towers in the circuit wall which were designed to prevent the enemy from ever entering the castle courtyard or bailey. As a lasting testimony to their integral strength, many tower keeps still survive today across Europe, where very often the rest of the castle buildings have long since disappeared.

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