Castle Learning Center Stone Castles
Castles of Britain

Stone Castles

stone castle © 2001-2016 by Marvin Hull
Stone castles began to be built in Britain in 1067. Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving stone castle, and may have been the first of this type to be built in Britain. Sometimes it is difficult to say just when stone castles were built, because a castle went through many building phases. Many were added to, improved and altered over a great time period up to four centuries.

Much of the time, the first stone structure was a great tower. Stone towers, or keeps, also replaced the wood towers on the mottes of the motte and bailey castle.

Stone Enclosure Castles
Many of the earliest castles were surrounded by earthworks to help in defense. But, for discussion purposes, I will talk about stone enclosures. These began to appear as early as 1088, when William Rufus (William II) authorized the building of an enclosing wall around Eynsford Castle in Kent.

Enclosure castles were also built from the ground up, not just as additions to already existing castles. Some had great towers and some did not. Richmond Castle, built in 1071, is a good example. It had a triangular enclosure, as did Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland. The enclosing curtain wall generally followed the outline of the castle, but a common enclosure for a new castle was the square enclosure.

example of enclosure castle

Stone towers would also be built, or inserted, at regular intervals in the enclosing curtain wall. This was done to further enhance the defense of the castle.