Stone Keep Castle Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Did you know that castles weren't always made of stone? Learn how and why people in France and England first started building stone keep castles. You'll also learn about a famous stone keep castle, the White Tower.

Stone Keep Castles

Imagine living in a castle. What do you think would be the best part? Maybe sleeping in a tower, or looking out over the walls and getting a really great view.

Well, if those things are on your list, you're probably thinking about the keep of a castle. The keep was a big building inside the castle walls, usually a tower. If anyone attacked the castle, people could hide in the keep and stay safe.

If this is your mental image of a castle, you are thinking of the keep.
Castle keep

Today, we usually imagine keeps as being made of stone. But that wasn't always the case. In this lesson, you'll learn how people started building stone instead of wooden keeps.

Wood vs. Stone Keeps

The first castles had keeps built of wood. But wooden keeps weren't very strong. When it rained, the wood got wet, and over several years, it could start to rot. It's not very good to have the strongest part of your castle rotting away!

Stone keeps solved that problem. Stone doesn't rot, can't be set on fire, and is stronger than wood. Stone keeps could also have thicker walls and be taller than wooden keeps. People in the castle could stand on top of the keep and see any enemies coming.

If you lived up here, you could see enemies coming from far away.
Stone keep castle

Stone keeps also looked very impressive. They were good for keeping people obedient to the lord who lived in the castle. Stone keeps were harder to build and more expensive than wooden keeps. But the advantages were worth it.

Styles and Parts of Stone Keeps

The first stone keeps were square. Later, people started building round keeps and those with different shapes. For example, some keeps were shaped more like long halls instead of towers. Most people put the keep in the middle of the castle, but others put it right at the doorway for more security. People also designed different ways of getting into the keep to make it safer.

In a stone keep castle, the kitchen was on the first floor of the keep. People lived on the higher floors. Outside the keep, there was a big space with other buildings. The whole castle was surrounded by a wall. Sometimes there was a big ditch outside the wall. This could be filled with water to slow down or stop people who tried to attack the castle.

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