Castle Learning Center Tower Houses
Castles of Britain

Tower Houses

© 2000-2016 by Lise Hull
tower house Tower houses are most common to Scotland, although there are some in Northern England. In 1535 an Act of Parliament declared that land owners that had land worth over 100 were to build a tower or castle. This would enable the land owner to defend his property.

Tower houses are similar to a rectangular keep. The entrance was moved to the lowest level, and the walls of the tower house were less fortified. In the 17th century comfort became a priority and tower houses became more spacious.

Tower houses most often contain one room for each floor, and many rise four stories or more. Wings and towers were incorporated into the design, or added on at a later building period.

There are three basic types of tower houses, based on the design plan, or shape. You have the Rectangle plan, L-plan, and Z-plan types. The L-plan was a rectangular or square tower house with a tower or an additional wing/building on one corner. The Z-plan was a rectangular or square tower house with towers or buildings/wings at the two diagonally opposite corners.

tower house plans

Some tower houses have a barmkin, which is a walled courtyard, often of a small size and with thin walls. There are other tower houses that did not have curtain walls and baileys, or they were removed during remodelling. Windows were small, and located above the first floor. Tower houses differ from pele towers, in that the pele towers are plain rectangular or square structures and most often have curtain walls.

Many tower houses are still lived in, and some are open to the public to be viewed.