When glass is used as the curtain wall, an advantage is that natural light can penetrate deeper within the building. As gunpowder artillery became more effective in the late medieval and early modern period, curtain walls changed again. From simple motte-and-bailey castles with small wooden palisades to late medieval concentric castles featuring multiple layers of vastly thick stone walls, the curtain wall was a key defensive element of the castle. Walls were often connected by a series of towers or mural towers to add strength and provide for better defense of the ground outside the castle. Gaps were created in the parapet to allow defenders to fire at attacking soldiers with bows and crossbows, and upright sections of the parapet (known as merlons) were left in place to give the garrison some shelter from enemy fire. To solve this problem, wooden hoardings also known as brattices were erected, small platforms that overhung the wall slightly, increasing the defenders’ line of sight. NEVER MISS A POST As mentioned earlier, wooden fortifications were weaker, prone to attack by fire, and required regular maintenance work, whereas stone walls were far stronger and more prestigious constructions. To compensate, fortifications were constructed with very low, yet extremely thick walls. All the elements described so far demonstrate how powerful the defensive capabilities of the walls could be in the event of a siege, as they could be garrisoned with missile troops who would rain down fire onto attacking soldiers, inflicting heavy casualties. Wider curtain walls also often featured mural passages which were walkways built into the thickness of the wall itself. There were several elements to a curtain wall that increased its defensive capabilities. Stone walls were far better in a siege, as they could resist missiles from enemy siege engines which would shatter or snap weaker wooden walls. These passages not only allowed for safe travel around the circuit of the wall, but they were also typically equipped with arrowslits, gun loops, and embrasures, increasing the defensive potential of the curtain wall. [2], Evidence for curtain walls or a series of walls surrounding a town or fortress can be found in the historical sources from Assyria and Egypt. These massive fortifications, which began to appear first in the crusader states, were based around multiple concentric circuits of thick curtain walls punctuated by towers. Curtain walls, defensive walls between two towers or bastions, were an intrinsic part of many medieval castles and fortifications. Later on, stone machicolations were engineered and built as a more permanent replacement for wooden hoardings. Within the circuit of the wall, buildings were constructed for accommodation and storage. Medieval castle walls changed over the centuries. Curtain Wall. The outer wall of a castle. Curtain walls, defensive walls between two towers or bastions, were an intrinsic part of many medieval castles and fortifications. If possible, these were created by digging down to bedrock and leveling it off, but if this was not possible, a wide ditch would have to be dug and filled with rubble before construction could begin. First, there was the battlement: this usually took the form of a parapet (a barrier that was an extension of the wall), which was crenelated. PRIVACY POLICY, A guide to De Haar Castle in The Netherlands, Description and Elements of Castle Curtain Walls. The outer wall of a castle. The Romans also used them extensively, and perhaps the greatest example is the Theodosian Land Walls of Constantinople, built in the 5th century – these defences surrounded the landward side of the city with a series of powerful rectangular towers, connected by a continuous circuit of curtain walls. From simple motte-and-bailey castles with small wooden palisades to late medieval concentric castles featuring multiple layers of vastly thick stone walls, the curtain wall was a key defensive element of the castle. However, usually, just the core of the wall was built of rubble, and a facing of ashlar was added to the outside to give the walls a facing (ashlar is worked stone, usually a block squared off so that it can be stacked like brickwork). Embrasures were also added to merlons in some fortifications. The lands owned by and farmed in the name of the castle owner but which were not usually leased. Curtain walls emerged in a very simple wooden form early on in the medieval period but were quickly replaced by stone walls. Dover Castle Keep. Naturally, wider walls had larger wall walks that could hold a larger number of men. There were even holes in the floor of these wooden constructions, to allow the garrison to shoot directly down onto attackers gathering at the base of the wall, or to drop stones or boiling liquids onto them. The introduction of gunpowder made tall castle walls vulnerable to fire from heavy cannon, which prompted the trace italienne style from the 16th century. This could be a castle, a fortified town or any other location that needs to be propected. © 2018 all about castles. The concentric crusader castle in the Levant, Krak des Chevaliers, was built with enormously thick walls, which are up to 80 feet deep in places. Curtain walls were built across Europe during the Roman Empire; the early 5th century Theodosian Walls of Constantinople influenced the builders of medieval castles many centuries later.[3].