Why Were Medieval Castles Built? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nola Bridgens

Nola has taught elementary school and tutored for four years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Marketing, and is a certified teacher.

Sure castles are incredible to look at, but did you ever wonder why they were built in the first place? This lesson will teach you about medieval castles and why they were built the way they were.

Why Were Medieval Castles Built?

Have you ever built a castle or fort while playing with your friends? Why did you build it? Probably for the same reason medieval castles were built, for protection. Medieval castles were built as homes for kings and nobility, the noble class of a country such as royalty and important public figures, to protect them from unwanted intruders.

Castles were typically built in the middle of the land the king or lord of the castle was ruler over. The castle served as a way to defend their land and fight off attackers. Castles were usually built where there was a natural feature of the land that would help in the defense of the castle such as building on top of a hill or where they were surrounded by water. The main reason castles were built was not for luxury, but for defense and protection.

Another reason for the construction of castles was to remind the people of the land who was in charge. In medieval times, the king or lord owned all the land and gave pieces of it to people to use. The castle served as a visual reminder and a symbol of power that the king was in charge over all the land.

Castle Features

Moat - a deep ditch that can be filled with water that surrounds a castle or a fort for protection. This was a great form of defense for castles. Intruders could not just simply walk up to the castle walls; they had to cross the water first.

Castle With a Moat

Drawbridge - a bridge that can be lowered and raised quickly to cross the moat.

Curtain Wall - a thick and tall outer wall that surrounds the castle. Some curtain walls had walkways where soldiers could stand guard and walk the entire perimeter of the castle.

Arrow Loops - little windows in the wall where archers and bowmen could shoot arrows at attackers while still being protected by the wall.

Towers - round or square structures that were usually built in the corners of the castle and were taller than the curtain wall to serve as a lookout.

Keep - the main residence for the lord or king of the castle and their family. It was usually made of stone and was either a round or square structure.

Castle Facts

The first castles were made out of wood. Later, they realized that using stone for the walls would make the castle stronger and better able to stand up against an attack.

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