Life in a Norman Castle: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in a castle? In this lesson, learn about the rooms inside a Norman castle, how they were used, and how people lived in these amazing structures.

Norman Castles

Quick! Pull up the drawbridge before the castle is invaded! Now that you're safely inside, let's learn about life in a Norman castle. The Normans were a group of people living in France in the Middle Ages, and they invaded England. To keep control of their new territory, they built many castles throughout the land. At first these castles were wooden, but the Normans soon discovered that using stone made them much more durable and sturdy.

This is Goodrich Castle in England, once a beautiful Norman structure that has been damaged over time.

Architecture and Levels

Norman castles were often built on the highest ground in an area. This enabled the residents of the castle to look out for invaders and have time to prepare for an upcoming attack. Around the edges of the castles were towers where people would look out for enemies.

One particular type of Norman castle was called a square keep castle. Looking down at the castle from above, it was designed in the shape of a square. In this type of castle, the lord who was in charge would stay in the safest room on the inside, called the 'keep'. Now the name makes sense, doesn't it? These castles had several levels, including the bottom floor which was often used for storage. Spiral staircases would lead to the other floors, and there was often a chapel built inside of a square keep castle.

A square keep castle was designed to have a safe room for the lord and other royalty living in the castle.

Life as a Serf

So let's pretend you were a serf living in England after the Norman invasion. A serf was someone who had to serve the lord and lady of the manor, and they had a very low standing in society. Your life as a serf would be pretty tough. Female serfs had the jobs of cooking, cleaning, and waiting on the lords and ladies of the manor. Male serfs often made weapons for the knights, or fed and groomed the horses in case they were needed for battle.

A Knight's Life

While the life of a serf doesn't sound too good, it was a whole lot better for knights! Although you would have to get up at dawn, you would enjoy breakfast that was cooked by a serf. Then you might tend to business matters or go to a religious service called mass, held in the chapel.

Knights were served by serfs and had fairly comfortable lives in Norman castles.

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